Originally published Jan. 29, 2017; updated Dec. 22, 2019, with Rise of Skywalker information (SPOILERS!)
Wedge Antilles in Rogue One
As is to be expected, there are loads of Easter eggs, cameos and callbacks to elements across the Star Wars Saga in Rogue One. By now, we’re all probably familiar with the Star Wars Rebels sightings of Chopper the Droid, the Ghost starship and a PA speaker namechecking of “General Syndulla,” aka Twi’lek Ghost pilot and, in the TV series, Captain Hera Syndulla, daughter of Clone Wars hero Cham Syndulla.
Lucasfilm sound editor (and General Grievous voice actor) Matthew Wood shared a treasure trove of auditory Easter eggs with /Film, and one of them caught me by surprise. It turns out Rebel pilot Wedge Antilles has a part in the Star Wars Story spinoff, despite actor Denis Lawson’s famously resolute refusal to return to the Galaxy Far, Far Away. The Red Squadron ace can be heard over the Yavin 4 Alliance base’s PA system calling his fellow pilots to action in the climactic battle brewing over the planet Scarif. (Yeah, that’s him!)
So how did this come to be, with Lawson leaving the Star Wars universe behind? It was no simple matter of re-casting a sound-alike, but something much closer to home for Lucasfilm. It turns out Wedge’s voice was dubbed over by David Ankrum in 1977’s Episode IV — A New Hope, and it was Ankrum who returned at Wood’s request to bring Wedge back to life.
“I even went back as far as the original trilogy, I got the voice of the gentleman who played Wedge, David Ankrum, to voice a little cameo on Yavin 4 to have all their ships head out to go to the battle on Scarif,” Wood told /Film. “He was thrilled to come back, and we recorded him and yeah, so those kinds of things, you just try to connect back. You know, we try to connect things to some Star Wars something. Something in the universe that we can connect to a fan that’ll enjoy that part of Star Wars, wherever they grew up and whether it’s Clone Wars, the prequels, the original trilogy, or Rebels, I try to connect the actors. And even the actors themselves feel a real certain respect for the Star Wars universe, and so they’re overjoyed to come back and work with us again.”
This isn’t the only Wedge Antilles sighting recently, however: The character appeared in a third season episode of Rebels as an Imperial academy defector, but Nathan Kress provided his voice there.
So why couldn’t Wedge actually take flight and join the fight at Scarif? A certain superweapon, that’s why:
@DG_Footy @JarackLawrence “Look at the size of that thing!” is the line we were trying to preserve.
— Pablo Hidalgo (@pablohidalgo) January 15, 2017
Wedge Antilles in The Rise of Skywalker
But that’s not all! Lawson himself finally returned on screen in the climactic air battle of Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker to help the Resistance save the day against the First (and Final) Order’s secret Sith fleet of Imperial Star Destroyers. Riding the Millennium Falcon gunner seat as famed General Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) swoops in with the massive populist fleet he’s managed to gather against all odds, Wedge finally returns to the fight — though his stepson Temmin “Snap” Wexley (as told in the Aftermath book trilogy, and played by Greg Grunberg) apparently doesn’t survive the battle, getting shot down in his X-Wing starfighter at the Battle of Exegol.
One final thought: Did you know that Lawson is the uncle of another Star Wars star — Ewan McGregor, who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequel trilogy and is set to resume the role in an episodic Disney+ series? It’s a small universe after all …