WARNING: SPOILERS. SO MANY SPOILERS.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens finally hit theaters this weekend, delivering on fan hopes and smashing box-office records. J.J. Abrams and crew managed to seemingly do the impossible by breathing new life into the franchise after a disappointing trilogy of prequels while paying loving homage to the original films that captured the imaginations of viewers for decades.
On top of creating a satisfying narrative and building on George Lucas’s original universe, The Force Awakens also featured a number of cameos and Easter eggs for super-fans to pick up on. How many of these did you catch on your first viewing, or do you need to go see it for a second (third? fourth?) time?
The Easter Eggs:
The Star Destroyer Opening
Each of the films in the original trilogy feature a Star Destroyer in the opening shot. The Force Awakens echoes this theme with the First Order’s Star Destroyer filling up the screen as soon as the opening text crawl ends. The ship is run by the ambitious and villainous General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), who is essentially Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) for a new generation.
The Rebel Helmet/ Pilot Doll
After scavenging the ruins of a Star Destroyer and receiving her portion payment for her findings, Rey (Daisy Ridley) heads home, which is the ruins of an AT-AT Walker. Inside, we see a makeshift Rebel Alliance pilot doll and a time-weathered Rebel helmet like the one worn by Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in the original trilogy. Where she found the helmet is unknown, but this helps build the aura of myth that surrounds the old guard of heroes, both in the Star Wars universe and in the hearts of fans.
The Combat Remote
In A New Hope, Luke Skywalker starts to train with Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guiness) using a Marksman-H Combat Remote found aboard the Millennium Falcon. The training droid makes a brief appearance in The Force Awakens when Finn (John Boyega) is rummaging around the Falcon and tosses the piece of Star Wars history aside like rubbish. For shame.
Dejarik (Holo Chess)
Another relic from A New Hope was seen aboard the Falcon: Finn accidentally activates the Dejarik board while exploring his new ride. Here’s hoping he was given the advice to just let the Wookie win.
Poe Dameron’s Name Inspiration
Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) was a standout in The Force Awakens, and his name had particular significance to J.J. Abrams. When looking for the perfect name for the hotshot pilot, Abrams’ first inspiration came from his assistant, Morgan Dameron. According to Abrams, “the name just stuck.” For Dameron’s first name, the director looked no further than his daughter’s favorite stuffed polar bear, called “Po” for short.
Lost fans knows that J.J. Abrams has a thing for numbers, and that is no different in The Force Awakens. Before being christened “Finn” by Poe Dameron, everyone’s favorite stormtrooper was known only by his identification number, FN2187. While it may seem like a randomly assigned number, 2187 is also the number of the cell that Leia (Carrie Fisher) was imprisoned in from A New Hope.
Anyone who is familiar with his Star Trek films knows that J.J. Abrams is a fan of the Beastie Boys, and he brings his love for the band to the next level in The Force Awakens. Not only was one of the new Resistant pilots named Ello Asty, a reference to the band’s Hello Nasty album, but the alien also has some writing in Aurebesh on his helmet that looks suspiciously like “Born To Ill.”
“Maybe we should use clones.”
After Finn disavows the First Order and goes rogue, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) calls into question Hux’s methods of training his Stormtrooper army. Clearly a wink to the maligned Attack of the Clones, a million voices suddenly cried out in terror, begging “No. No, do not do that.”
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
A much more welcome nod to the films that have come before was Han Solo’s (Harrison Ford) utterance of “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” When his freighter is overrun with Rathtars, Solo trots out the line that many Star Wars characters have fallen back on in movies past.
Admiral Ackbar and Nien Nunb
While it was wonderful seeing Leia back in the war room, she wasn’t the only familiar face in the Resistance: the ever memeable Admiral Ackbar also had a cameo appearance, but sadly, we do not know whether it was a trap. Lando Calrissian’s co-pilot from Return of the Jedi, Nien Nunb, also seems to have gotten a promotion, as he is seen piloting an X-Wing in Dameron’s squadron when they set out to destroy the Starkiller Base.
The Force Theme
In one of the greatest sequences of this or any Star Wars film, Rey summons Luke’s lightsaber using the Force and subsequently holds her own in a duel with Kylo Ren. As Rey draws her lightsaber, the familiar strains of John Williams’ iconic “Force Theme” begin to play, much like it did when Luke looked upon the twin suns of Tatooine in A New Hope. Whether this is just a sign of Rey’s Force sensitivity or a nod to rumors about her Skywalker parentage remains to be seen.
Simon Pegg as Unkar Plutt
Noted Star Wars fanboy Pegg got to live the dream with a cameo in The Force Awakens as Unkar Plutt, the junker on Jakku who seemed to have it out for Rey. Plutt is even seen in Rey’s flashback vision, so there is a chance that the fleshy criminal could play a more significant part in the story than we know yet. He could just be a one-off character handing out portions, or he could be the key to Rey’s parentage.
Daniel Craig as a Stormtrooper
Despite Craig denying any involvement in the film, he did, in fact, have a cameo in The Force Awakens. After a tense scene with Kylo Ren where she starts to get a hint of her powers, Rey decides to test out how tapped into the Force she actually is by commanding her guard — Craig in a stormtrooper suit — to set her free. If you’re in on the joke, Craig’s accent is pretty recognizable and delightful for 007 fans.
Alec Guinness, Ewan McGregor, and Frank Oz as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda
When Rey first lays hands on Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber, she is shown a distressing vision. A cacophony of voices is heard, but a few, in particular, stand out: Early on in her vision, you can hear some Yoda (Frank Oz) and Luke, but most clearly you can hear Obi Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor) saying “Rey… these are your first steps.” Abrams told Entertainment Weekly that while McGregor popped by to record most of the line one day, they managed to manipulate Guinness saying “afraid” in A New Hope to sound like he’s saying “Rey” instead.
Warwick Davis as a bar patron
Warwick Davis was only 11 when he appeared in Return of the Jedi as the Ewok Wicket, who would go on to have an adorable place in the Star Wars universe. While The Force Awakens is devoid of Ewoks, Davis still had a part to play, albeit a small one. Like many of the stars who had cameos, Davis was one of the bar patrons in Maz Kanata’s tavern.
Bill Hader and Ben Schwartz as the voice of BB-8
Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation may not be the first places you think to find actors to be in Star Wars, but Hader and Schwartz proved to be the perfect guys to bring the cutest droid in the galaxy, BB-8, to life. The two comedians were brought on board as “voice consultants” for the film, and created the droid’s signature beeps with a synthesizer. I guess Hader’s audition on Conan paid off.
Greg Grunberg and Ken Leung as Snap Wexley and Admiral Statura
Abrams is the kind of director who brings his favorite actors along with him on projects time and time again, especially Greg Grunberg, who has had a part in nearly every Abrams television show or film since Felicity. The Force Awakens was no different, with Grunberg showing up as X-Wing pilot Snap Wexley. Lost fans will have also recognized Ken Leung, aka Miles Straume, in the Resistance war room as Admiral Statura.
Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, and Cecep A. Rahman as members of Kanjiklub
J.J. Abrams is a fan of the films The Raid: Redemption and The Raid 2, and decided to try and get three of the stars of the films, Uwais, Ruhian, and Rahman to cameo in The Force Awakens. Luckily for him, they were available, and they shared the screen with Harrison Ford as members of Kanjiklub, smugglers who Solo swindled one too many times.
Billie Lourd and Gerry Abrams as Lieutenant Connix and Count Cypress
Carrie Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, is also a budding actress, recently starring in Scream Queens as Chanel #3. Lourd can be seen (sporting a hairdo similar to her mother’s iconic double buns) as a Resistance officer on the D’Qar base. Abrams also wanted to keep it in the family when he cast his own father Gerry in a cameo as a character called Count Cypress.
Thomas Brodie-Sangster as First Order Petty Office Thanisson
With the exception of Gwendoline Christie’s turn as Captain Phasma, Brodie-Sangster had the most recognizable part in The Force Awakens among current and former Game of Thrones cast members when he appeared as a short-lived First Order officer. I’m sure that Jessica Henwick (Nymeria Sand), Miltos Yerolemou (Syrio Forel), and Mark Stanley (Grenn) — who played a Resistance pilot, a Maz Kanata patron, and a member of the Knights of Ren, respectively — aren’t complaining, though.
Michael Giacchino and Nigel Godrich as Stormtroopers
Basically, if you’re friends with J.J. Abrams and didn’t get asked to be a stormtrooper, you should probably be offended. Giacchino has worked with Abrams as a composer for years, and Godrich is Radiohead’s recording producer; Abrams had both wear the iconic stormtrooper outfit, with Giacchino as FN-3181 one Godrich as FN-9330.
Lin-Manuel Miranda as the bar singer
Miranda has a had a huge year as the star and creator of the Broadway smash hit, Hamilton, so participating in Star Wars is just icing on the cake. While he didn’t actually appear on screen, he did write and sing (in Huttese, natch) the song playing in Maz Kanata’s cantina. J.J. Abrams himself also provided additional vocals for the tune.
Judah Friedlander as a bar patron
The 30 Rock actor got the chance to play an alien in Maz Kanata’s bar.
Kevin Smith as “Additional Voices”
After Smith admitted that he had an emotional visit to the set of The Force Awakens, many assumed that he filmed a cameo while he was there. However, Smith is credited merely as “additional voices,” so who knows where in the film he can actually be heard. If you managed to pick Silent Bob out of the crowd, sound off in the comments below.