While Disney and Lucasfilm still have no comment about the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII, Variety claims that five actors have risen to the top of director J.J. Abrams' favorite list, with all candidates vying for the role of lead Jedi apprentice.
While no character details are available, we know that Ed Speleers (Downton Abbey), John Boyega (Attack the Block), Matthew James Thomas (About a Boy), and Broadway actor Ray Fisher are all battling for this coveted role alongside long rumored Breaking Bad actor Jesse Plemons.
While Girls star Adam Driver has yet to be officially confirmed, this new report claims that he is a lock for the main villain in Star Wars: Episode VII, a member of the Empire who will face off against the Jedi apprentice in this three-part saga.
Insiders close to the production warn that this list of five young, mostly unknown actors is not by any means a clear indication of the route being taken on the movie. Casting is still under way, and the search has not ended. These five actors just happened to be at the top of the list at this moment, and that could change at any time.
The role is not for one of Han Solo, Princess Leia, or Luke Skywalker's children, who were the main focus of Michael Arndt's original draft. The new screenplay by J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan puts the original trilogy characters at the forefront of the story, with the children to be the focus of the second two sequels. This main Jedi apprentice role is believed to have a substantial storyline running through all three movies.
Casting continues to be an ongoing process as executives and creatives argue over whether the characters should be more ethnically diverse compared to the previous Caucasian leads seen in the first six movies. J.J. Abrams is seeking a diversified cast, which is why actors such as Michael B. Jordan and David Oyelowo tested early on. Michael B. Jordan has since gone onto land a lead role in The Fantastic Four reboot, which puts him out of the running.
It is likely that J.J. Abrams will cast lesser-known actors to appear opposite the very well known original stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. Star Wars: Episode VII is expected to start shooting in the late second quarter or early third quarter of this year, with production taking place at London's Pinewood Studios.