The John Wayne Cameo In Star Wars You Probably Never Noticed

It's always fascinating when two titans of the entertainment industry cross paths, especially when it happens in a wildly unusual way. Such is the case that we're about to discuss here, as none other than the legendary John Wayne actually had a small cameo in "Star Wars." Not only that, his role — in an odd way — was significant, despite his character's lack of screen time. And that's especially amazing considering this kind of happened by accident, without Wayne actually signing up for the role in question. So let's dive into how this happened, and why, for a few reasons, it was a significant contribution to both a galaxy far, far away, and Wayne's illustrious career.

The Duke Unwittingly Voiced a Character In Star Wars

Ben Burtt is a legendary sound designer who worked on both the original "Star Wars" trilogy and the prequels. He has been a huge part in shaping the universe as we know it. During an appearance at the fourth Star Wars Celebration some years back, as noted by the official Star Wars blog, Burtt revealed an interesting tidbit about the creation of the character Garindan, who appears briefly in "A New Hope" (more on the specifics in a moment). As it happens, in trying to come up with the character's sound, it was none other than John Wayne who, technically speaking, voiced the character.

"I always wanted to do an insect man – we didn't really have an insect man come along until Poggle the Lesser [from Episodes II and III]. We had that character that looked kind of like a mosquito from the first Star Wars [Garindan] that we found we needed a sound for. And I was wondering back a few months ago how I did it – because I keep notes and tapes – and I discovered it was an electronic buzzing which had come off of my synthesizer that was triggered by a human voice. And I listened to it and realized it was John Wayne – I had found some loop lines in the trash from the studio that had been thrown away. So the buzzing was triggered by some dialog like 'All right, what are you doin' in this town' or something like that."

Amazingly enough, discarded audio of one of the biggest actors in Hollywood history provided the sound for a character in one of the biggest movies of all time. You can't make that stuff up. What's even more miraculous is that Burtt didn't even seem to recognize this until years later when going back over the tapes.

John Wayne's Character Was Oddly Pivotal

Garindan shows up at an important moment relatively early on in "A New Hope." The character ultimately clues the Stormtroopers to the whereabouts of R2-D2, C-3PO, Luke, Han, Chewie, and Obi-Wan. The official databank entry on for the character lays it out like this:

A long-snooted Kubaz, Garindan made a living ferreting out information in Mos Eisley and selling it to the highest bidder. After the Empire hired Garindan and other spies to search for a pair of missing droids, the Kubaz discovered a duo that fit the Imperial description. He followed Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi to Docking Bay 94 for their rendezvous with Han Solo, then summoned Imperial troops to apprehend them.

So, even though Wayne never intended to voice a character in "Star Wars," and George Lucas certainly didn't intend to have him be the voice of Garindan, that's just how it worked out. And it just so happened that the character had a crucial role to play, even if the screen time was minimal.

It Was Technically John Wayne's Final Role

One of the most important things about this odd little role in "Star Wars" is that it technically marked John Wayne's final movie role. While his final on-screen part was in 1976's "The Shootist," the cinema legend did have his little part to play in "Star Wars: A New Hope" (originally released simply as "Star Wars") in 1977. Though he was uncredited, it is an important part of his enormous legacy.

Wayne became famous for his Westerns dating back to the '30s. He is one of the most recognizable and enduring American silver screen icons, with movies such as "True Grit," "The Alamo," and "The Quiet Man" under his belt, among many, many others. Wayne was nominated for three Oscars for his work, ultimately winning for his role in "True Grit." A legend if ever there was such a thing. So, it is fitting that the man made his mark on one of the biggest franchises in cinema history, even if it wasn't intentional.