John Wayne was actually in Star Wars, but you never realized

John Wayne is rightly beloved as the leading man of many of the best Westerns ever made, but he also appeared in the first Star Wars movie in a hidden role.

John Wayne in The Searchers

John Wayne and Star Wars don’t seem like the most obvious bedfellows, with The Duke known more for the best Westerns of all time than showing up in the best science fiction movies. However, it turns out that John Wayne actually did appear in the first of the Star Wars movies back in 1977.

A New Hope completely changed Hollywood when it became one of the highest grossing movies ever and, along with Jaws, helped to define the idea of the modern blockbuster. But it also holds the title of being John Wayne’s final movie role.

Wayne passed away in 1979, and Don Siegel’s 1976 Western The Shootist stands as his final official credit. But that doesn’t count his secret role as one of the Star Wars aliens on Tatooine.

Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt revealed the cameo at a Star Wars Celebration appearance in 2007, as quoted by Star Wars Blog. And it turns out that he made the discovery somewhat by accident that Wayne’s voice was used for Garindan, who appears as an informant for the Galactic Empire on Mos Eisley.

The Garindan in Star Wars used elements of John Wayne's voice

“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],” said Burtt.

“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. 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 dialogue like ‘all right, what are you doin’ in this town?’ or something like that.”

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So, while Wayne didn’t actually bring his cowboy hat to the Tunisian set of Star Wars, he did become a crucial part of one of the colorful Star Wars characters that appeared in one of the best movies of all time.

For more on the glittering screen career of one of the best actors to ever live, find out why John Wayne rejected an offer to work with Clint Eastwood and why John Wayne and Kirk Douglas never saw eye-to-eye.

We’ve also got a list of all of the new movies coming in 2023, as well as in-depth guides to The Equalizer 3 release date and the Indiana Jones 5 release date.