John Wayne

It Took Star Wars 3 Decades to Find Out Secret John Wayne Cameo in $775M Movie

When George Lucas held a special screening for his friends and acquaintances in the movie business after the completion of a draft of what would ultimately go on to become Star Wars: A New Hope, it was received with a loud clamoring in decibels he had never heard before. But it wasn’t a good thing because the clamoring was congratulatory or ruckus over how epic the production was. They all reckoned it to be the stupidest thing they had ever laid their collective eyes on in their entire tenure in the industry of film and television.

But the room contained one other person, a fellow visionary who sat quietly in the midst and muttered only one thing after coming out of his momentary shock at the 2-hour vision in front of him – that it was the greatest piece of art he had ever seen and one day, this would be regarded as the most celebrated film of all time. It was Steven Spielberg who foreshadowed the success of Star Wars and as always, Steven Spielberg was right.

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

Also read: George Lucas Never Wanted Yoda as a Part of the Star Wars Lore, Created Him To Fill the Plot Hole Left By Obi-Wan’s Death: “He’s a mystery character”

Star Wars Harbors a Suprise Treasure Among Its Trove

Although garnering $775.8 million at the box office, Star Wars Episode IV was produced against a budget of only $11 million. George Lucas’ first film in a series that would spawn a prequel and sequel trilogies immediately raked in a reputation for being appalling in its scale, vision, and ambition, and would forever go on to change the genre of science fiction in Hollywood. And it was only right that one of the most revolutionary pieces that were conceived in the late 70s would enter into mainstream cinema containing one of the most revolutionary actors from the Golden Age Hollywood who wanted to go out with a bang.

John Wayne
John Wayne

Also read: “I fought hard. I fought to win”: John Wayne Invented New Kind of Dirty Fighting Style Unlike Anything Hollywood Had Ever Seen

John Wayne, notable for his role in Westerns and gritty war films throughout the 50s and 60s (most famously, StagecoachEl Dorado, and Red River – with each of the films holding a record 100% on Rotten Tomatoes) was perhaps one of the most influential actors who defined the Golden Age of cinema before the arrival of Clint Eastwood. And by the ’70s, he was already reaching the end of his reign. Surprisingly, exactly 30 years after the premiere of Episode IV, it was revealed that the actor may have made a rare cameo in the genre of sci-fi – a far throw from his usual desert landscape, dusty old town arena of Western dramas – in Lucasfilm’s debut premiere.

John Wayne Makes a Rare Appearance in A New Hope

The Western actor of the yesteryears, John Wayne, may have been the most relevant of all heroes standing for the symbol of masculinity and strong man archetype in his prime, but he was already 70 when Star Wars came out in 1977. As revealed in the 2007 Star Wars Celebration by sound designer Ben Burtt, the sound effects for a masked character in the first film were attributed to an accidental interference in a studio recording that sounded like the buzz of an insect – thus making it perfect for the mosquito-like character in A New Hope.

John Wayne in The Searchers (1956)
John Wayne in The Searchers (1956)

Also read: John Wayne Humiliated an Entire Superpower After Joseph Stalin Sent KGB Assassins To Kill Him

As it turns out, the recording was that of John Wayne speaking to a fellow cast or crew member on set.

We had that character that looked kind of like a mosquito from the first Star Wars 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 that had come off of my synthesizer that was triggered by a human voice.

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.

This definitively marks the final (although accidental) appearance (in sound) of John Wayne in the film industry as he would pass away at the age of 72 just 2 years after the premiere of Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope. 

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