Saga The Best Acting Performances in Star Wars

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by WriterMan, Jun 3, 2014.

  1. WriterMan Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 26, 2012
    star 2
    What can I say, some of the acting in Star Wars has been top notch. Some of it has been lackluster, as well, but I would argue that the good outweighs the bad. So, I will list my top performances in the Star Wars franchise, specifically listed with the actor, character and movie.

    1.) Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars
    2.) Harrison Ford as Han Solo in Star Wars
    3.) Alec Guiness as Ben Kenobi in Star Wars
    4.) Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi
    5.) Frank Oz as Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back
    6.) David Prowse and James Earl Jones as Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi
    7.) Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith
    8.) Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith
    9.) Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa in The Empire Strikes Back
    10.) Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back
    11.) Anthony Daniels as Threepio in The Empire Strikes Back
    12.) Christopher Lee as Count Dooku in Attack of the Clones

    Honorable mentions:

    Natalie Portman as Queen Amidala in The Phantom Menace
    - Natalie is a fantastic actress, as shown by her work since Star Wars (Black Swan, in particular). She was plagued with a bad part in Episodes II and III, but I feel she does very well in Episode I.

    Kenny Baker as R2 in Star Wars
    - Not sure if it can really count as a performance because there aren't lines spoken, but the expression done through movement by Baker is phenomenal. Artoo is an iconic character because of Baker.

    What are your top performances? Do you agree with mine?
    Last edited by WriterMan, Jun 3, 2014
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  2. Force Smuggler Chosen One

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    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
  3. HevyDevy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 13, 2011
    star 4
    Liam Neeson in TPM.
    Ian McDiarmid in ROTS/ROTJ.
    Frank Oz in ESB.
    Mark Hammil in ESB.
    James Earl Jones/David Prowse in ESB.

    Off the top of my head...
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  4. Darth Dnej Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 27, 2013
    star 1
    1. Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine in Return of the Jedi
    2. Alec Guiness as Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi in Star Wars
    3. David Prowse, James Earl Jones, and Sebastian Shaw as Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back / Return of the Jedi (had to include Shaw in the list because of using two movies. I could not decide between the two films.)
    4. Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars
    5. Harrison Ford as Han Solo in Star Wars
    6. Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi
    7. Frank Oz as Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back
    8. Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith
    9. Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back
    10. Anthony Daniels as C-3PO in The Empire Strikes Back

    Honorable Mentions

    Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa in The Empire Strikes Back
    Christopher Lee as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus in Attack of the Clones
  5. Cushing's Admirer Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2006
    star 7
    1. Sir Peter Cushing Grand Moff Tarkin Star Wars
    2. Sir Christopher Lee Count Dooku Attack of the Clones
    3. Ian McDiarmid Emperor Palpatine in Return of the Jedi
    4. Mark Hamill Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi
    5. Ewan McGregor Obi-Wan Kenobi Revenge of the Sith
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  6. Malcolm Reynolds Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2013
    star 5
    1. Mark Hamill- Return of the Jedi
    2. Alec Guniess- A New Hope
    3. Ewan McGregor- Revenge of the Sith
    4. Liam Nesson- Phantom Menace
    5. Peter Cushing- A New Hope
  7. Yanksfan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 3, 2000
    star 5
    The best:

    In ANH: Peter Cushing and Alec Guinness
    In ESB: Frank Oz, James Earl Jones, Harrison and Carrie. Mark Hamill (He really helps *sell* Yoda. I think he's under appreciated for his role in that).
    In ROTJ: Mark Hamill. Ian McDiarmid

    Prequels: Ewan, Liam, and Jimmy Smits.
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  8. Orman Tagge Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2014
    star 3
    The best for me would have to be Sir Christopher Lee, Sir Alec Guinness, and Ian McDiarmid. A step below them, but still great, are Ewan McGregor and Harrison Ford. That's my "top tier", if you will. Most actors gave good, maybe even great, performances otherwise, but nobody was quite on the aforementioned's level in my opinion. The weakest links to me are Hayden Christiansen in AotC (he was great in RotS) and Luke in ANH (seriously - he's whinier than AotC Anakin), although the latter is more appropriate given the context of the movie.
  9. Sarge Chosen One

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    Oct 4, 1998
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    Mark Hamill on Dagobah and DS2. I love the way he showed spiritual growth and trying to resist temptation.
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  10. Alexrd Force Ghost

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    Jul 7, 2009
    star 5
    Alec Guinness, Liam Neeson, Christopher Lee, Ian McDiarmid, Peter Cushing, Mark Hamill and Ewan McGregor.
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  11. DRush76 Force Ghost

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    Jan 25, 2008
    star 4
    I don't know.
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  12. Force Smuggler Chosen One

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    Sep 2, 2012
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    Harrison Ford in ANH, and ESB
    Hamill in ESB and ROTJ.
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  13. DRush76 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2008
    star 4
    It seems to me that in some scenes, certain actors are superb and some aren't. Yet, those who do not give good performances in one scene, give excellent performances in others. I've noticed this in both trilogies. I guess that's why I can't think of a list of actors/actresses who gave the best performances in the saga so far.
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  14. Cael-Fenton Force Ghost

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    Jun 22, 2006
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    What immediately comes to mind is Alec Guinness talking about the past in Obi-Wan's hovel. At that point, he presumably had little detail to work with about his character's history; yet he conveyed so much with his eyes, his inflections, little pauses, etc. Not only hinted at the glory days of the Jedi, but at the depth of his personal loss. And he managed to do so in a way that conveys *more* of that emotional aspect to the audience than to Luke. His expression when talking about Vader/Anakin was consistent with the later plot twist: the evasiveness and also the sense of an old and very deep wound.

    Ewan McGregor was brilliant at fleshing out those hinted-at depths, especially in RotS of course. And he did so in a way that allowed for the passage of twenty years. There's much talk of his emoting during Anakin's immolation, but I actually think his best scenes were the much subtler ones: his reaction the Temple security footage, talking to
    Padmé, and the birth of the twins. Restrained; no gratuitous emotional breakdown; but he portrays how shattered Obi-Wan was.
  15. ObiAlKenobi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2012
    star 2
    Alec Guinness, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing were all incredible. I also have to give a lot of credit to Mark Hamill in Empire. His best acting in the trilogy. How else could we believe that Yoda was real without excellent acting from Hamill? He did a great job.
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  16. vinsanity Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 28, 2013
    star 4
    1 - Alec Guinness
    2 - Harrison Ford in ESB
    3 - Ian McDiarmid - ROTJ and ROTS
    4 - Mark Hamill (ROTJ)
    5 - Ewan McGregor (AOTC / ROTS)
  17. Kenneth Morgan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 27, 1999
    star 4
    I'd say Mark Hamill did a good job in all three of the OT movies. More than any of the other main actors, he worked opposite creatures, droids and bluescreens and made them all convincing. Also, Luke as a character grows and develops the most in the OT and he did very well showing those changes.

    Besides, as I posted a while back, I love the adolescent whine he used for the "Tosche Station" line in ANH.
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  18. Rogue Five Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 11, 2014
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    If puppets count, I think Frank Oz did a brilliant job brining Yoda to life in Five and Six. Especially in Five, he made he character very believable. Yoda hold up decently even today.
    But what really sells those scenes is Hamill's performance. He couldn't hear Yoda at all while filming iirc, and yet he still interacts with him with absolute sincerity. The scenes on Dagobah really are some of the best in the saga.

    Beyond that, I agree Alec Guinness and Ian McDiamid were excellent as well. McDiamid's little bit in the opera scene in ROTS is probably my over all favorite bit of acting in the movies.
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  19. DARTH_BELO Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 25, 2003
    star 4
    Good ranking topic.

    My favorite performances:

    1. Frank Oz as Yoda (especially his death scene in ROTJ)

    2. Ian McDermid as Palpatine/Sidious

    3. Harrison Ford as Han Solo

    4. Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi (specifically in ROTS)

    5. Carrie Fisher as Leia



    I must say I am surprised to see Padme being ranked above Anakin, who doesn't even get mentioned. Of course this is all opinion based, but I felt that (despite a few weaknesses here and there-which is mostly due to script, rather than performance) Hayden's performance was much more moving and dynamic than Natalie Portman's – as much as I love her - especially in ROTS. I agree he doesn't necessarily deserve top ranking, but when compared to Padme specifically is what I'm referring to. I honestly can't imagine anyone performing Anakin better in that episode.
    I'm also shocked that I haven't yet seen Carrie Fisher mentioned!

    … Unless I missed something of course.
  20. Django Fett Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2012
    star 4
    How Ian McDiarmid never won an ocar for ROTS is beyond me, it was the perfect performance equal to Ralf Fiennes Nazi in Schindler's List and Sir Laurence Olivier's former Nazi in Marathon Man.
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  21. Darth Raiden Jedi Grand Master

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    Aug 28, 2013
    star 3
    Don't forget Bob Anderson
  22. awefc Jedi Youngling

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    Sep 20, 2014
    ian mcdiarmid in revenge of the sith
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  23. sbk1234 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 21, 2014
    star 1
    There's a reason why Alec Guiness and Peter Cushing are considered classics. Both of their performances were superb.
  24. Gen Rendar Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 7, 2014
    star 1
    There are so many people that have contributed to Starwars over the years, I almost feel bad I might leave someone out. But if I'm just picking people off the top of my head, a few of them come to mind(in particular groups, but in no particular order):

    • Peter Cushing as Tarkin and Alec Guiness as Ben Kenobi - They both brought a sense of professionalism to the roles. You really got the impression regardless of the filming conditions or personal thoughts about their roles, they were going to deliver a very skilled performance.
    • Liam Nesson as Qui Gon Jinn, Christopher Lee as Count Dooku and James Earl Jones as Darth Vader - Like above, all these guys brought a strong degree of professionalism to the role, you always have the impression you are going to get a good performance out of them. In addition to that, you also feel as if they have a real respect and trust in the franchise and film makers. There is a level of consistency among all of them that really stands out.
    • Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine, Ewan McGregor as Obi-wan, Anthony Daniel as C-3Po and Frank Oz as Yoda - These guys really "get" Starwars in my opinion. While it could be argued they aren't as classically or professionally skilled as some others, they more than make up for that by fully embracing the charm and character of the series. Starwars was never supposed to be Shakespeare, it was never supposed to win awards or achieve great critical acclaim with some artsy committee; it was supposed to be a grand space adventure, it's supposed to be FUN, and all these guys really understood that. I feel maybe more than most, these guys gave their all to bring their performance to life and give them character.
    • Special mention: Harrison Ford as Han Solo - What can you really say about Han Solo? He has such a great arc throughout the original trilogy, and Harrison really brought the character to life. I always got the impression Ford was in this sort of psychological battle over how to balance wanting to do a great job, and accepting the fact he was in this "goofy space movie," but I think at the end of the day, that really contributed to the overall presentation of the character. Han is sorta this adult stuck in a universe layered with child-like wonder; he's the cynic, and to a lot of people, the audience surrogate. He's good in A New Hope, and great in Empire; however, to be fair, I never felt his heart was completely in it for Jedi(but he still does a good job). At the end of the day, it's pretty hard to imagine Han Solo without Harrison Ford.
    Last edited by Gen Rendar, Oct 7, 2014
  25. Captain B Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 2014
    star 1
    • Alec Guiness--ANH
    • Ian McDiarmid--ROTS
    • Peter Cushing--ANH
    • Mark Hamill--ESB
    • Ewan McGregor--entire prequel trilogy
    • David Prowse/James Earl Jones--Original saga
    • Harrison Ford--ESB
    • Carrie Fisher--ESB
    • Liam Neeson--TPM
    • Frank Oz--Yoda
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