courtesy Radmilla Cody
Radmilla Cody flanked by Navajo Star Wars fans at the auditions that took place May 3-4 in Window Rock, Arizona.

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

June 12, 2013

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, 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

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



aiahninchi ohoyo's picture
aiahninchi ohoyo
Submitted by aiahninchi ohoyo on

im an old 'back to the blanket' skin who thinks this is ridiculous...have these children totally lost their traditions, values and beliefs???

jack23011's picture
Submitted by jack23011 on

I applaud this effort. The Star Wars story contains many themes about adversity, race, class, and cultural struggles which address real life struggles. Young people coming together to produce this in their native language (any native language) is an opportunity to understand the universal struggle of their's and other cultures and to support the realization that they (their own culture) is not alone in its struggle. Further, it paints a rather realistic picture of courage in the face of adversity and that though one struggles it is an ongoing journey of successes and challenges--just as real life has its struggles with oppression and marginalization. Why not celebrate this endeavor instead of pointing out a negative which is clearly your personal perspective? I guess you'd rather they be out causing mayhem, drinking and drugging?


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