With Star Wars: The Force Awakens hitting theaters in just over three months, and the first spinoff Rogue One: A Star Wars Story already in production, Disney and LucasFilm are starting the casting process for Star Wars: Episode VIII, which is set for release on May 26, 2017. Last month, Benicio Del Toro confirmed that he is in talks with the studio to portray the villain, but we haven't heard about any other actors being considered for different roles, until now. The Wrap reports that actresses Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) and Olivia Cooke (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) are considered the top candidates for the female lead role.

Some insiders claim that it is still very early in the casting process, with writer-director Rian Johnson set to meet with many more rising stars for the role. Others, however, claim that the filmmaker is thinning out the field, with Tatiana Maslany, Gina Rodriguez and Olivia Cooke slated to come in for chemistry reads with John Boyega, who plays Finn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. A report surfaced that LucasFilm and Disney want a strong female lead, a character who may be tied to either Luke Skywalker or Han Solo's family line, but that was never confirmed.

What's interesting is that Tatiana Maslany was once rumored to have been cast in Rogue One, before Felicity Jones ended up winning the role. Aside from her multiple clone roles on Orphan Black, Tatiana Maslany most recently played a younger version of Helen Mirren in Woman in Gold, and she starred alongside Richard Dreyfuss in the indie film Cas & Dylan. Her show Orphan Black was also recently renewed for its fourth season by BBC America.

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Gina Rodriguez won a Golden Globe earlier this year for her title role in The CW's Jane the Virgin. She previously starred in the indie hit Filly Brown, and she will next be seen on the big screen in Deepwater Horizon, arriving in theaters September 30, 2016. Olivia Cooke is coming off the indie hit Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and she also stars as Emma Decody on A&E's hit TV series Bates Motel.

Even if these actresses are the front runners for the female lead, we probably won't know the character's identity for quite some time. There are still a number of characters who haven't been identified from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and that opens in December. Do you have a favorite from the three potential female lead candidates for Star Wars: Episode VIII? Let us know what you think, and stay tuned for more details.

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