What original Star Wars cast did next – secret affair to flight death tragedy, Holby City role and ITV game show gig

IT'S been a staggering 45 years since the Star Wars saga burst on to our screens, quickly becoming one of the most successful film franchises of all time.

And with today being May the fourth it's an important day in any Star Wars fan's calendar, with the date playing homage to the film's iconic tagline: "May the Force be with you."

While many of the original stars have reprised their roles in sequel films over the years, outside of the franchise the cast have gone on to lead extremely varied lives.

Here's what happened to the actors who made their name in the first trilogy a long time ago…

Tragic death at 60

Known for her role playing Luke Skywalker's sister, Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher was an icon among franchise fans before her death in 2016.

She reprised her role multiple times over the years, including in 2015 for Star Wars: The Force Awakens – a role she was asked to lose 35 pounds for.


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She also starred in multiple other films including Drop Dead Fred in 1991, When Harry Met Sally in 1989 and Scream 3.

Years later, in her bombshell 2016 autobiography The Princess Diarist, the actress revealed wrote she had embarked on a three-month affair with co-star Harrison Ford during the filming of Star Wars in 1976.

Her issues with substance abuse over the years were well known, and she often said her life had been defined by addiction, speaking publicly about using cannabis from 13, and admitting to taking coke while filming The Empire Strikes Back.

In later life, Fisher adopted a dog called Gary – an emotional support animal who helped her manage bipolar disorder.

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Sadly, Carrie died on December 27, 2016 at the age of 60, days after having a heart attack during a flight from London to Los Angeles.

The star had traces of cocaine, heroin and ecstasy in her system when she died, an autopsy revealed, although the cause of death was determined in part as sleep apnoea.

Real-life flight emergencies

Harrison Ford rose to global fame playing Han Solo in the original film, reprising the role four times over the following 40-odd years.

However, incredibly it's not necessarily his biggest role, with the star also playing the role of Indiana Jones and also starring in Bladerunner too.

Reacting to Carrie Fisher's romance revelation, Harrison confessed to GQ the decision was "strange."

But it isn't something he's ever fully opened up about, saying: "With Carrie's untimely passing, I don't really feel that it's a subject that I want to discuss."

At the time of the three-month affair, Harrison was with his first wife Mary Marquardt.

Ford has been married three times, and wed Ally McBeal actress Calista Flockhart in 2010, after they met at the 2002 Golden Globe Awards.

In real-life Ford is also a licenced pilot, and has had several dramatic flight dramas over the years.

In 2015 he was forced to make an emergency landing when a small plane he was flying experienced engine failure, sustaining a broken pelvis and ankle.

In 2017 he inadvertently flew over a passenger plane at a California airport and landed on a taxiway instead of a runway.

Timber to Texas

Perhaps one of the most recognisable characters, Hans Solo's furry sidekick Chewbacca the Wookiee, was played by the late Peter Mayhew.

At 7ft 3in, Peter had the perfect stature for the larger-than-life role, and he reportedly studied how gorillas moved to perfect his character.

When poor health forced the actor to pull out of The Last Jedi in 2017, he was still credited as "Chewbacca consultant".

Peter was a regular at sci-fi conventions, and invested in a timber business in West Yorkshire before moving to Texas in 2000 after marrying American wife Angie Luker, with whom he shared three children.

Peter died of a heart attack in 2019, at the age of 74.

Following the news, Harrison Ford said in a statement: “Peter Mayhew was a kind and gentle man.

"We were partners in film and friends in life for over 30 years and I loved him.

"He invested his soul in the character and brought great pleasure to the Star Wars audience.”

Voice work success

Star Wars is all about Luke Skywalker, the swashbuckling star that made actor Mark Hamill an instant household name.

As well as four Star Wars films, he went on to star in a number of other films, including The Big Red One and Kingsman: The Secret Service in 2014.

He also went on to do extensive voice acting work, including as the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series.

The 'heart and soul of R2-D2'

Cast as the renegade robot R2-D2 in 1977, 3ft 8in Brit actor Kenny Baker went on to star in six Star Wars films and was popular on set, regarded by fellow cast member Mark Hamill as a "lifelong loyal friend".

He began acting at the age of 16 and also appeared in a number of other popular 1980s films, including The Elephant Man, Time Bandits and Flash Gordon.

Kenny met his wife Eileen – who died before him of epilepsy – after appearing on an episode of Michael Parkinson, and he himself later died peacefully in his sleep in 2016, at the age of 81.

"Kenny was truly the heart and soul of R2-D2 and will be missed by all his fans and everyone who knew him," George Lucas commented.

Speaking after his death, Kenny's niece Abigail Shield said: “When he was a child, he was told that he probably wouldn’t survive through puberty.

"Being a little person in those times, they didn’t have a very good life expectancy. He did extremely well in his life."

ITV game show host

Warwick Davis was just 11 when he landed the role of Wicket, the Ewok Princess Leia befriends, after Kenny Baker had to pull out due to illness.

Since then, his career's gone from strength to strength, starring in films including David Bowie's Labyrinth, and Harry Potter.

In 2012 Davis starred in TV series Life's Too Short, which he created along with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, and he now co-hosts ITV game show Tenable, and is also a pantomime regular.

Warwick is happily married and lives with his wife and two children in Cambridgeshire.

Holby City role

Scottish actor Denis Lawson played the minor role of Wedge Antilles in all three original films – although his voice was dubbed over in the first two so technically he only spoke in Return of the Jedi.

Beyond this, Denis – who is Trainspotting star Euan McGregor's uncle – has had a varied and illustrious career as both an actor and director.

He's starred in everything from Holby City, playing surgeon Tom Campbell-Gore, to New Tricks, Victoria and Jekyll.

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In 2017 Denis married partner Karen Prentice while holidaying on the Italian Riviera.

Lawson lost his first wife, actress Sheila Gish, to cancer in 2005.

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