Navajo 'Star Wars' Cast, Set for July 3 Premiere

A story about the casting and upcoming screening of the Navajo-language version of Star Wars, with comments from Radmilla Cody and Manuelito Wheeler

Casting for the Navajo-language version of Star Wars has completed, and Navajo Nation Museum director Manuelito Wheeler is confident in the selections. "All the people that were cast fit the voice perfectly and they gave awesome performances," he said, according to the Navajo Times.

Several of those cast offered personal thoughts on the characters they are voicing. The actor chosen to play Obi-Wan Kenobi compared the old Jedi master to a Navajo medicine man, while the actress who'll play Princess Leia said she felt that her own personality mirrored that of Carrie Fisher's character. The actor chosen for Darth Vader is a coach at Rock Point High, and said that he identified with Vader's leadership skills. The role of Han Solo -- Star Wars' cocky "scoundrel" -- went to James Junes of the comedy duo James and Ernie. 

Radmilla Cody, former Miss Navajo Nation and a 2013 Grammy Nominee, auditioned -- alas, unsuccessfully -- for the part of Princess Leia. "It was quite the experience in the sense that it was fun, nerve wrecking, and exciting all at once!" she tells ICTMN. "At one point during the audition, I was reminded of the Miss Navajo pageant panel questions. I am excited for everyone involved especially Shi yazh Herman Cody who did the voice-over for Uncle Owen." 

Organizers are keeping the identity of the actor who'll voice bronze protocol robot C-3PO a secret. According to AZCentral.com, some 115 Navajos attended the casting, which took place May 3 and 4. In all, 20 actors were chosen to lend their voices to the production, says Dan Bloom of TheWrap.com.

In a recent interview with NPR, Wheeler revealed some of the plans for the premiere. "The premiere sponsor that came forward was Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation," Wheeler said. "They do that Navajo Nation Fair and the Fourth of July fair. So, I will premiere it at the Fourth of July celebration on July 3. We have a grandstand there on the fairgrounds and we are having a screen built on a semi-flatbed trailer. So, when we're ready we'll drive that out and set up chairs ... and have popcorn for as many as we can make popcorn for."

The following Navajo-speakers have been chosen:

Luke Skywalker: Terry Teller (Lukachukai, Arizona)
Princess Leia: Clarissa Yazzie (Layton, Utah)
Darth Vader: Marvin Yellowhair (Rough Rock, Arizona)
Han Solo: James Junes (Farmington, New Mexico)
Grand Moff Tarkin: James Bilagody (Tuba City, Arizona)
Obi-Wan Kenobi: Anderson Kee (Cottonwood, Arizona)
Aunt Beru: Elsa Johnson (Scottsdale, Arizona)
Uncle Owen: Herman Cody (Ganado, Arizona)
C-3PO: To Be Announced