'Star Wars': 17 actors you didn't realize appeared in George Lucas's space saga

Keira Knightley in 'Star Wars: The Phantom Menace'

Before she shot to fame in Bend It Like Beckham Keira Knightley had a minor role in Phantom Menace. She played Amidala's decoy Sabe, who is outed as a double to Natalie Portman's character when meeting with Boss Nass.

Dominic West in 'Star Wars: The Phantom Menace'

Before he was Det. Jimmy McNulty in The Wire, Dominic West was another law enforcer of sorts in Phantom Menace. He played a palace guard on Naboo, but you have to be sharp to spot him.

Joel Edgerton in 'Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith'

Principal photography for Episodes II and III took place in Australia, so it's no surprise that it was packed with upcoming Down Under stars like Edgerton. He plays Luke's future adoptive parent Uncle Owen, and later reprised the role in the Disney+ miniseries Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Sofia Copolla in 'Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace'

She's more commonly-known as a film director nowadays, but did you spot her in Episode I? Her father, Francis, was a good friend of George Lucas, so when she visited the set, Lucas found her a costume and popped her into a scene as one of Padme's handmaidens.

Richard Armitage in 'Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace'

You'll know him from TV's Spooks or as Thorin the warrior dwarf in The Hobbit films or, more recently, for a much-talked about pillow scene in Netflix's erotic thriller Obsession, but you may not have realized he was in Star Wars too. Armitage played a nondescript fighter pilot in Phantom Menace in one of his first screen roles.

Rose Byrne in 'Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones'

Keira Knightley isn't the only star to play handmaiden to Natalie Portman's Padme. In Episode II, Aussie actress Rose Byrne of Bridesmaids and Bad Neighbors fame, played loyal servant Dorme in a few early scenes.

Peter Serafinowicz in 'Star Wars: The Phantom Menace'

The actor-comedian lent his sultry tones to Darth Maul in Phantom Menace around the same time he was appearing in Edgar Wright's sitcom Spaced opposite Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. He only had a few lines as Maul and says it was one of the worst-paying jobs he'd ever done.

Julian Glover in 'Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back'

You'll instantly recognize veteran actor Julian Glover as the bumbling Grand Maester Pycelle in HBO's Game of Thrones, but did you know he also played the imperial commander who leads the raid on Hoth at the beginning of Empire Strikes Back?

Celia Imrie in 'Star Wars: The Phantom Menace'

A stalwart of British film and television, Celia Imrie is fondly remembered for her appearances opposite Victoria Wood in shows like Dinnerladies and Acorn Antiques. She most recently appeared in Netflix's The Diplomat and in Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Sam Heughan's romance Love Again. Imrie played a Naboo pilot in Phantom Menace, the first female fighter pilot seen on-screen in the Star Wars films.

John Ratzenberger in 'Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back'

Everyone knows him as Cliff from Cheers and kids will recognize his voice from Pixar films (he's the studio's mascot, appearing in almost all their films), but you may not have spotted him playing a rebel commander on the Hoth base.

Ralph Brown in 'Star Wars: The Phantom Menace'

He played Danny, the Camberwell Carrot-rolling drug dealer in Withnail and I along with countless TV and film roles over the years, but you can also see him as a Naboo military man in Episode I.

Bai Ling in 'Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith'

Although most of her scenes were cut from Episode III (some say Lucas excised her from the film after she posed nude in Playboy), you can still see the actress on the Blu-ray extras. You may recognize her from films like Wild Wild West, The Crow and the Jason Statham action sequel Crank: High Voltage.

Tony Cox in 'Star Wars: Return of the Jedi'

George Lucas employed countless small actors to fulfill the huge cast of Ewoks required for the film's climactic scene, including Tony Cox who is was memorable as Marcus the foul-mouthed dwarf in Bad Santa.

Jack Purvis in 'Star Wars: A New Hope'

Best known as Wally in Time Bandits and Gustavus in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, the diminutive actor actually made his film debut in Star Wars as the chief Jawa, hidden under a costume. He also returned to play different roles in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

Deep Roy in 'Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back'

Deep Roy was drafted in to play Yoda in an uncredited role for the wide shots which show the ancient Jedi master walking. He also played Droopy McCool in Return of the Jedi, but you'll probably know him best for playing ALL the Oompa Loompas in Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Michael Sheard in 'Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back'

Sheard struck fear into the hearts of children across the country playing the tyrannical Mr. Bronson in the British series Grange Hill from 1985 to 1989 and had an uncredited role as Adolf Hitler in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. He also played Admiral Ozzel, the imperial leader force-choked by Vader for alerting the rebels to their presence on Hoth.

Christopher Malcolm in 'Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back'

Instantly identifiable as Justin, the gay American father of Saffron in the popular U.K. sitcom Absolutely Fabulous, Christopher Malcolm can also be spotted under the distinctive rebel helmet of Rogue 2.

When George Lucas was casting for Star Wars, he auditioned nearly every up-and-coming actor in Hollywood. Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Kurt Russell, Sissy Spacek all passed through his audition room before he eventually chose Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and a carpenter named Harrison Ford. Those actors went on to achieve superstardom thanks to Lucas, but they weren’t the only future stars featured in the Star Wars films during the pre-Disney era.

Here are some thespians who made under-the-radar journeys to that galaxy far, far away.