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As everyone who has seen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story now knows, this movie was a different beast from the main saga Star Wars movies. Explaining how the Rebels stole the Death Star plans from the Empire, the story mainly involved around brand-new players. In fact, of all of Rogue One's main characters, only Saw Gerrera had appeared elsewhere beforehand (in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series). However, that doesn't mean the movie was without any previously established characters from past movies.
We included some of the familiar faces who popped up during Rogue One in our Easter Eggs list, but here's the full list of cameos/minor appearances in the movie, whether it was someone reprising a role, a new actor being brought in to play a character or digital movie magic was used to recreate an individual. Let's kick this off with someone who was well advertised in these last several months.
Warning: major SPOILERS for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story are ahead!
Orson Krennic may have been Rogue One's main antagonist, but Darth Vader made sure to keep the Director of Advanced Weapons Research in his place. The Dark Lord of the Sith, of course being vocally reprised by James Earl Jones (while Spencer Wilding and Daniel Naprous were the ones in the costume at different points), was first seen at his castle on Mustafar enjoying a batca tank bath before instructing Krennic to keep working on the Death Star in secret. He also "cleverly" warned the officer the dangers of being too ambitious with one of his trademarked Force chokes. At the end of the movie, Vader unleashed his dark side fury on unfortunate Rebel soldiers, be he was unsuccessful in seizing the stolen Death Star plans. We all know where he's heading next.
Mon Mothma was first played by Caroline Blakiston in Return of the Jedi, but in Rogue One, Genevieve O'Reilly reprised the role over a decade after her scenes in Revenge of the Sith were cut. Even though she wasn't seen in the first two Original Trilogy entries, Mothma was still an important Rebellion council member in this period, and she was the one who tasked Jyn Erso with uncovering information about the Death Star. That mission was successful, and Mothma will continue to be one of the main Rebel leaders until the Galactic Civil War's conclusion.
We've come to know Wilhuff Tarkin as the main figure associated with the first Death Star, but in Rogue One, he was effectively serving as the supervisor looming over Orson Krennic's shoulder. Actor Guy Henry motion capture-performed Tarkin in Rogue One, Stephen Stanton provided the voice work and archive footage of the late Peter Cushing's likeness was digitally laid over Henry's face. Tarkin essentially seized control of the Death Star due to the lapses in security that passed by Krennic, but even he couldn't prevent the Rebels from stealing the plans to the battle station. Oh well, he can just task Vader with recovering the plans.
The last time Jimmy Smits played Bail Organa was in Revenge of the Sith, where he helped rescue Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda following Order 66, as well as adopted Leia to keep her hidden from the Empire. Nearly two decades later, he's one of the Rebellion leading figures, though he maintains his position in the Imperial Senate as cover. Bail supported Jyn Erso's plan to bring the fight to the Empire, but after Jyn and her ragtag group ignored the ruling majority's decision to not do that, he decided to head back to Alderaan to prepare for the coming war. Sadly, Alderaan will be the Death Star's next victim following Scarif, so Bail's doesn't have much longer to live.
A New Hope begins with Leia Organa and the crew of the Tantive IV fleeing from a Star Destroyer, so it was surprisingly fitting to see Leia pop up in Rogue One's final minute aboard the same ship and be given the Death Star plans. During the production, Leia was played by Ingvild Deila, while footage of Carrie Fisher from the 1970s was used to recreate young Leia's likeness. Archive audio of Fisher saying "Hope" was also used for her saying the last word in the movie.
C-3PO And R2-D2
These droids have appeared in every theatrical Star Wars movie, so while their inclusion in Rogue One was surprising, it wasn't unprecedented (though it did feel a bit forced). Of course, Anthony Daniels voiced C-3PO again, while R2-D2 was reprised by Series Of Random Beeps. They were seen together at the Yavin 4 Rebel base, when C-3PO noted how it was unusual that the Rebels were going to Scarif and expressed frustration that no one tells him. We can assume that R2-D2's following beeps were a smarts retort.
Doctor Evazan And Ponda Baba
Have you ever wondered what Doctor Cornelius Evazan and Ponda Baba were up to right before they traveled to Mos Eisley and picked a fight with Luke Skywalker at the cantina? No? Well, you get the answer anyway in Rogue One, as they bumped into Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor on Jedha and nearly picked a fight with them. I wonder if Jedha was located within one of the 12 systems where Evazan (played in this movie by Michael Smiley) had the death sentence. Anywho, enjoy the arm of yours while you still can, Ponda, because it's soon going to be chopped off by a wizened Jedi Master.
You may not know the name, but if you've watched A New Hope more than once, you'll remember General Jan Dodonna as the bearded man who walked the Rebel pilots through the plan to destroy the Death Star. In Rogue One, he was played by Ian McElhinney, best known as Barrister Selmy on Game of Thrones. Dodonna didn't have much to say in this movie, but it's still clear he's an important Rebel leader.
Now here's a deep cut only the most hardcore Star Wars fans noticed. One of the many Rebel pilots who flew to Scarif to lend a hand to Jyn Erso and her team was Red Leader, a.k.a. Garven Dreis, originally played by Drewe Henley (who passed away back in February. However, rather than turn to scenes of Red Leader from the final cut of A New Hope to digitally recreate him, director Gareth Edwards relied on unused footage of the pilot from the first Star Wars movie at Skywalker Ranch. After making some digital alterations to his X-wing cockpit, Red Leader was fitted almost seamlessly into Rogue One, showing him on his penultimate mission for the Rebel Alliance.
Just like with Red Leader, Rogue One used unseen footage from A New Hope to include Gold Leader, a.k.a. Jon "Dutch" Vander, originally played by Angus MacInnes. Gold Leader is best remembered as the Y-wing pilot who lead the first bombing run on the Death Star in A New Hope, but was shot down by Darth Vader in the trench. At least he was able to put his piloting skills to use on Scarif right before that.
These last two folks didn't appear in Rogue One, but their mentions are notable enough to include on this list. First up, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Before Bail Organa headed back to Alderaan, Mon Mothma tasked him with finding Obi-Wan Kenobi, thus setting up why his daughter Leia is looking for the Jedi Master at the start of A New Hope. Second, if you listen closely around the time Cassian approaches Jyn about traveling to Scarif without the support of the Rebel council, you can hear a General Syndulla being mentioned over the speakers. There are two notable Syndullas in the Star Wars universe: Hera, one of the main characters in Star Wars Rebels, and her father Cham, who appeared as a freedom fighter during Star Wars: The Clone Wars. It's since been confirmed by EW that Hera is the general in question, although Rebels fans will have to wait to find out how she's awarded that position. As an added bonus, Hera's trusty droid Chopper was also briefly visible at the Yavin base.