The 20 Best "Star Wars" Performances Ever, Ranked

·6 min read

While the Star Wars franchise has left an inimitable mark on pop culture, the epic sci-fi saga has never been one to receive much recognition from awards organizations outside of their technical honors.

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However, just because there aren't any "Best Actor" or "Best Actress" Oscars for the Star Wars franchise doesn't mean there haven't been some phenomenal performances across the board. As such, I've decided to look back at the live-action films and streaming series within the Star Wars universe to definitively rank the 20 best performances in the franchise's history.

20.Daisy Ridley as Rey in The Force Awakens

"Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens"

Out of the many new characters who debuted in the sequel trilogy, few made as immediate of an impression as Daisy Ridley as the adventurous new heroine of the franchise, who brought vulnerability, charm, and a vibrant passion to the role.

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19.Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith

"Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith"

Ewan McGregor essentially served as the narrative anchor of the prequel trilogy, with his most affecting and engaging performance being that as the emotionally wounded Obi-Wan Kenobi who must literally and figuratively reckon with his missteps as a master and friend.

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18.Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux in The Force Awakens

"Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens"

General Hux very much falls into the sniveling, arrogant villain territory within the Star Wars franchise, but Domhnall Gleeson’s self-effacing and grandiose performance in The Force Awakens truly sells the character as not only a selfish weasel but utterly powerless in the face of more terrifying figures above him in the chain of command.

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17.Ming-Na Wen as Fennec Shand in The Book of Boba Fett

"The Book of Boba Fett"

Ming-Na Wen may have forged the duplicitous and deadly character of Fennec Shand on The Mandalorian, she absolutely injected the character with more depth on The Book of Boba Fett, which also offered a better look into her vulnerabilities and motivation as Boba Fett’s second-in-command.

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16.Anthony Daniels as C-3PO in Return of the Jedi

"Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi"

To be fair, Anthony Daniels has always offered a great performance in all of his appearances as C-3PO, but his vocal performance and mannerisms are especially multifaceted and entertaining in Return of the Jedi, especially during his scenes in Jabba’s palace on Tatooine.

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15.Benicio del Toro as DJ in The Last Jedi

"Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi"

It may not have been the flashiest or most meaty role, but Benicio del Toro’s manipulative mercenary DJ steals almost every scene of which he is a part in The Last Jedi.

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14.Pedro Pascal as Din Djarin in The Mandalorian

"The Mandalorian"

Pedro Pascal has managed to move mountains with an empathetic, and largely vocal, performance as the titular character on The Mandalorian that requires the right notes to be expressed via the slightest inflections and subtleties.

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13.Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa in The Empire Strikes Back

"Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back"

The late, great Carrie Fisher was always game to jump headfirst into the weird and wild worlds of Star Wars, but her performance as Leia was especially impressive as the actress comfortably jumped between badass hero and star-crossed lover at the drop of a hat.

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12.Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo in Solo: A Star Wars Story

"Solo: A Star Wars Story"

Filling the shoes of Harrison Ford in one of his most legendary roles is no easy feat, but Alden Ehrenreich went above and beyond the call of duty to emulate and expand upon the brash roguish charm (and, at times, desperation) that defines the character of Han Solo.

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11.Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope

"Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope"

Alec Guinness may not have been exceptionally proud of his work in the Star Wars franchise, but the esteemed British actor nonetheless gave his all toward the iconic mentor of Luke Skywalker.

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10.Adam Driver as Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi

"Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi"

Adam Driver redefined his career with what has become his most recognizable role, balancing rage, angst, seduction, and cunning all at once with his second outing as Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi.

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9.Bill Burr as Migs Mayfeld in The Mandalorian

"The Mandalorian"

In both of his appearances in The Mandalorian, Bill Burr has brought humanity to what could have been easily a one-off villain performance, exuding frustration and arrogance in his first episode before really injecting life and a lived-in history into Migs Mayfeld in his second, and most recent, episode.

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8.Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"

Winning an Empire Award for Best Actress for the film, Felicity Jones helped elevate Rogue One with a rebellious energy and an emotionally charged performance that not only felt organic and earned, but is so dang rare for a big budget tentpole.

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7.Frank Oz as Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back

"Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back"

It could be argued that no actor has conveyed so much soul and lived-in history into a puppeted character as Frank Oz in The Empire Strikes Back, making an incredible impression among audiences that has remained impactful more than 40 years later.

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6.Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story

"Solo: A Star Wars Story"

He may not be the title character, but Donald Glover basically ran away with Solo by offering a stark, braggadocious new dimension to the undeniably cool Lando Calrissian while helping to plant the foundation of the Star Wars stalwart’s rocky relationship with Han Solo.

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5.David Prowse, James Earl Jones, and Sebastian Shaw as Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi

"Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi"

After the shocking revelation that closed The Empire Strikes Back, the collaboration between in-suit actor David Prowse, voice actor James Earl Jones, and on-screen actor Sebastian Shaw in Return of the Jedi brings about a more conflicted, embattled, and ultimately, remorseful version of the otherwise stoic pillar of intergalactic evil.

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4.Ian McDiarmid as Senator Palpatine/Darth Sidious in Revenge of the Sith

"Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith"

Ian McDiarmid’s performance as Senator Palpatine/Darth Sidious remains one of the brightest highlights of the prequel trilogy, though his predatory and petrifying turn in Revenge of the Sith stands out as the actor’s finest contribution to the franchise.

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3.Harrison Ford as Han Solo in The Force Awakens

"Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens"

Harrison Ford has always been a fan favorite in the Star Wars universe, but the actor does some extremely heavy lifting in selling The Force Awakens to a new generation by grounding the film with gravitas, offering moments of Han’s classic huckster persona and providing a final beat that raises the emotional stakes of Kylo Ren’s journey tenfold.

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2.Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"

Maybe the most underrated performance of the Star Wars franchise in general, Ben Mendelsohn adds an underpinning of professional and personal impotence within his Empire general, scowling and simmering with fury as he attempts to make a name for himself while dealing with troublesome rebels and the scorn of his superiors.

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1.Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back

"Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back"

Mark Hamill’s performance in A New Hope made his name in Hollywood, but his performance in The Empire Strikes Back proved just how versatile and astounding of an actor he could be, as the emotional journey between his near-death experience on Hoth and the devastating revelation after his loss to Darth Vader is nothing short of a marvel to watch unfold.

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