While John Wayne’s final onscreen role was The Shootist, here’s why 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope was technically his final movie credit.
Star Wars: A New Hope technically features the final role for John Wayne – even if it’s hard to spot. The release of both Jaws and the original Star Wars in the late ’70s would forever alter the cinematic landscape. They became the first summer blockbusters, and have endured over the decades as classics.
While Jaws would putter out as a franchise after three sequels – and a beloved Universal Studios Jaws ride – Star Wars has been going strong for decades. In addition to the various movies, there have been TV shows, video games, books, comics, theme park rides and endless merchandise. While the Star Wars sequel trilogy received a mixed response overall shows like The Mandalorian prove there’s a lot of life left in the saga.
The John Wayne Western The Searchers was a major influence on Star Wars: The New Hope when George Lucas was developing the screenplay. Both feature a veteran and a rookie setting out on a dangerous rescue mission and endless sandy deserts; The Searchers doesn’t feature any epic space battles, however. Wayne’s final onscreen appearance was 1976’s The Shootist, where he played a terminally ill gunfighter. Wayne himself was in poor physical health making the film and would pass from cancer three years later, but it was actually A New Hope that featured Wayne’s final, uncredited role.
Garindan is recognizable by his dark hood and insect-like snoot. In A New Hope he only plays a brief role, where he leads the stormtroopers to Luke and the rest of the gang at “hive of scum and villainy” Mos Eisley before they escape in the Millennium Falcon. He’s also heard speaking some gibberish alien language, and sound designer Ben Burtt later revealed this was a heavily processed version of Wayne’s voice. According to Burtt (via Star Wars Blog) when he was creating the voice for Garindan, he used an “… electronic buzzing which had come off of my synthesizer that was triggered by a human voice.”
When revisiting the audio files, he realized the voice was none other than Wayne, taken from trashed audio files left by Fox. Burtt also stated that “… the buzzing was triggered by some dialog like ‘All right, what are you doin’ in this town’ or something like that.” Of course, it’s impossible to make out Wayne’s actual voice in Star Wars: A New Hope, and this little factoid was left undiscovered for decades. John Wayne isn’t the only member of the family who has appeared in the franchise with his grandson Brendan acting as Din Djarin’s (Pedro Pascal) body double in The Mandalorian. In fact, for the episode “Chapter 4: Sanctuary” guest director Bryce Dallas Howard revealed she only worked with Wayne playing the role, as Pascal was busy rehearsing for a play during filming.