Whether or not you believe in the saying, “no one hates Star Wars more than Star Wars fans,” there’s no denying that the fandom can be a bit overwhelming at times. And sometimes, it’s those who play beloved characters in the galaxy far, far away who are less-than-dazzled with the franchise and its extremely invested fanbase. Fans who, for better or worse, have a lot to say about what they expect from Star Wars storytelling.
Here’s a breakdown of five memorable times Star Wars actors fired back against fans, for one reason or another.
A Brief History of Famous “Star Wars” Controversies
Initial reception to the Prequel Trilogy
You can’t throw a stone without hitting a Star Wars fan, which can be either a good thing or a bad thing. With millions of dedicated followers, the franchise attracts all kinds of people from every corner of the world, each with their own opinions. While it’s important to note that most Star Wars fans are generally respectful when it comes to discussing which projects they did or didn’t like, it’s also necessary to address the elephant in the room: the Star Wars fanbase has a bad reputation.
The Original Trilogy, made up of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977), Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983), was, and continues to be universally loved by audiences.
However, peoples’ views of the franchise shifted in 1999, when George Lucas’ Prequel Trilogy kicked off with Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace to overwhelmingly negative reviews. Many attacked Lucas’ “cardboard dialogue” and messy storyline on top of Jar Jar Binks’ (Ahmed Best) entire existence. Hayden Christensen’s portrayal of Anakin Skywalker was also deemed “awkward” and out of line with Darth Vader’s characterization in earlier iterations.
Over time, thanks to meme culture, online discourse, and the intended audience having grown up, perceptions of the Prequel Trilogy began to shift, with many taking to social media to defend the movies for their warmth, nostalgia, and endless quotability. Excellent additions to the universe like the Star Wars: The Clone Wars cartoons helped save the legacy of the films, reviving interest in the characters and their stories.
Disney “Star Wars” and the Sequel Trilogy
However, it was inevitable that yet another wave of controversy would soon envelop the Star Wars franchise after Disney acquired Lucasfilm in a multi-billion dollar deal back in 2012. Right off the bat, the company embarked on the ambitious mission of creating a Sequel Trilogy starring a fresh new cast—along with some familiar faces. The first installation, J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015), was a box office hit, garnering praise from both fans and critics.
But disaster struck in 2017, when the Rian Johnson-directed Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi landed in theaters, only to be followed by a wave of controversy. Perhaps one of, if not the most the most divisive Star Wars project to date, the movie was closely followed by Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker in 2019, which remains one of the franchise’s lowest-rated movies of all time.
Still, the company persisted, and widespread interest in the franchise was resurrected thanks to Disney+’s first live-action Star Wars show, The Mandalorian. Other shows, including The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi, have proved to be hit-or-miss amongst fans, but the streaming service seemingly has no plans of slowing down on releasing new, original content anytime soon.
Why Are “Star Wars” Fans so Protective of the Franchise?
Attachment to beloved legacy characters
Luke Skywalker, who was played by Mark Hamill in the Original and Sequel trilogies, is easily one of the most recognizable pop culture icons at all time. His story—a run-of-the-mill farm boy turned galactic hero—is particularly relatable to those who have ever longed to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Because of this, lots of fans see a version of themselves in Luke, or in Leia Organa’s (Carrie Fisher) cunning wit, or in Han Solo’s (Harrison Ford) smug, shoot-first-talk-later persona.
Spending so much time with these characters makes fans feel like they actually know them, which is why Rian Johnson’s take on Luke in The Last Jedi was heavily scrutinized by fans. Gone was the charming, optimistic Jedi fans were first introduced to in A New Hope, suddenly replaced by an older, world-weary Luke who served as the self-sacrificial mentor to Daisy Ridley’s Rey. Ultimately, it’s up to fans to decide what’s canon or not in their own minds, but writers’ differing portrayals of legacy characters in newer Star Wars projects are always going to rub some audiences the wrong way.
An active, multi-generational community
Identity and fandom go hand in hand, especially when it comes to Star Wars. Many grew up watching at least one of the trilogies as they premiered in theaters, with the franchise dating back nearly 50 years. Conventions such as Comic-Con and Star Wars Celebration also bring fans together from all over the world to celebrate the galaxy far, far away in person, where they can cosplay as their favorites characters, buy merchandise, and meet other dedicated fans, creating a very real sense of friendship and community.
Five Times “Star Wars” Actors Spoke Out Against Fans
Ewan McGregor calls fans “parasitical lowlifes” and “f***ing wankers”
In 1999, Ewan McGregor set about on a massive undertaking: stepping into a legacy Star Wars role as a younger version of Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. Played by Sir Alec Guinness in the Original Trilogy, the wise, stoic mentor to Luke Skywalker—and his father before him—became a fan-favorite character over the years. His arc was further explored in the Prequel Trilogy, which detailed his relationship with Anakin Skywalker, as well as his involvement in the Clone Wars.
Initially, the Prequel Trilogy was abjectly hated by critics, who bashed the movies for their stilted dialogue, CGI-laden action sequences, under-written characters, and forgettable political drama-esque storylines. As a result, even McGregor, who played a leading role in all three films, began to criticize his own movies, which were followed by tough criticism that continued long after they premiered.
In 2014, McGregor had some strong words about his limited interaction with certain Star Wars fans, saying he only met “the f***ers” who were more interested in selling his signature online than actually interacting with him or engaging with the films. He criticized overzealous people crushed “children against barriers” to get him to sign “their f***ing picture of Obi-Wan Kenobi,” calling them “parasitical lowlifes and f***ing w**kers” instead of actual fans.
Still, despite having less-than-favorable things to say about his time in the galaxy far, far away in the past, McGregor seems to have made amends with Lucasfilm, after he returned to Star Wars for the Disney+ Obi-Wan Kenobi miniseries in 2022.
Moses Ingram responds to racist “Obi-Wan Kenobi” backlash
Sadly, the internet has allowed for extreme voices to be amplified on virtually every social media platform, making way for a new wave of hate comments, criticism, and needless backlash. Moses Ingram, who played Imperial Inquisitor Reva in Obi-Wan Kenobi, was targeted by a wave of racist abuse online for her role, taking to Instagram to share a series of nauseating insults, threats and slurs she’d received on social media.
“There are hundreds of those. Hundreds,” she explained in an accompanying video, before adding, “I also see those of you out there who put on a cape for me. And that really does mean the world to me.” Justifiably, Ingram said that she didn’t want to “shut up and take it” when it came to online bullying, thanking “the people who show up for me in the comments and the places that I’m not going to put myself. And to the rest of y’all …” she added, “…Y’all weird.”
Mark Hamill condemns criticism of Jake Lloyd
After playing a nine-year-old Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace, actor Jake Lloyd experienced a horrendous level of bullying and abuse from critics and fans—so much, in fact, that he stepped away from his acting career altogether. Mark Hamill has been a vocal supporter of Lloyd ever since, and had some choice words for toxic fans who targeted the young actor for “ruining” their childhoods.
“I couldn’t believe some of the things they wrote about the Prequels, you know? But really beyond ‘I didn’t like it.’ ‘You ruined my childhood!'” Hamill told New York Magazine in 2017. “I’m still angry about the way they treated Jake Lloyd. He was only 10 years old, that boy, and he did exactly what George wanted him to do. Believe me, I understand clunky dialogue.”
John Boyega calls out toxic fans for harassing Kelly Marie Tran
John Boyega, who played ex-Stormtrooper Finn in the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, came to the defense of his co-star Kelly Marie Tran after she received scores of abusive messages online, causing her to delete her social media accounts. Being the first woman of color to play a leading role in the franchise—playing mechanic Rose Trico—the actress faced sexist and racist comments online after her debut in The Last Jedi.
Speaking out in defense of Tran, Boyega hit out against those who harassed her, saying on Twitter, “If you don’t like Star Wars or the characters understand that there are decisions makers and harassing the actors/ actresses will do nothing. You’re not entitled to politeness when your approach is rude. Even if you paid for a ticket!”
Freddie Prinze Jr. goes on R-rated rant about “Star Wars” hate
90s royalty, Freddie Prinze Jr., lent his voice to the animated Star Wars Rebels series for all four seasons, playing Ezra Briger’s (Taylor Gray) mentor and friend, Kanan Jarrus. A Jedi on the run, Kanan fought back against the Galactic Empire before paying the ultimate price for his fellow Ghost crew members to escape in the series’ final season.
While appearing as a guest on Jeff Dye’s Friendship Pod back in 2019, Prinze hit back at older generations of fans who scrutinized Rebels and The Clone Wars for being too kid-friendly. He also revealed that even he got hate related to his four-season run on Rebels, and put certain fans on blast for being mad that “Han Solo gave the Millenium Falcon to a girl” in the Sequels.
“I did a Star Wars cartoon, so even I get hate from Star Wars fans. And I’m like, ‘Look, dawg, you’re just made the franchise is not aging with you,” he explained. “But that ain’t how it works. The first one was for f***ing kids. The second three were for different f***ing kids. And this one is just for kids. You’re just pissed off that Han Solo gave the Millenium Falcon to a girl.”