It's the biggest news of the day. Probably the week. Possibly the month. And maybe even the whole year thus far. Director J.J. Abrams has announced the cast for Star Wars: Episode VII. Returning from the original trilogy are Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker. Joining them are newcomers John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow.
What we haven't gotten are any new story details or character breakdowns. Who are these new guys playing? And where is Billy Dee Williams? We've been able to piece together all the information we've had in the past two years to explain who we might see on screen next December, and in what capacity. None of this has been confirmed by Disney or Lucasfilm.
John Boyega's name was first rumored just this past March, where he was said to be competing against relative unknowns Ed Speleers, Matthew James Thomas, and Broadway actor Ray Fisher, as well as long rumored Breaking Bad actor Jesse Plemons. The role is reportedly that of Lead Jedi in the next three movies, and he will have a personal connection with the main Sith villain, played by Adam Driver. When we first meet John Boyega's character, he is an apprentice under Luke Skywalker. It isn't a huge role in the first movie, but will expand to a lead in the second two films. This character is not Luke Skywalker's son. Though, there is evidence that he is a descendant of Obi-Wan Kenobi, a role originally thought to be female, with little known actress Maisie Richardson-Sellers and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o up for the role. Michael B. Jordan was also up for this same role, but has since moved onto the The Fantastic Four reboot. This is a character that has gone through many different changes between the Michael Arndt screenplay and the one being read right now by the cast in London, written by J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan. At one point, many speculated that this character was Lando Calrissian's son. That seems unlikely, especially since Billy Dee Williams does not appear to be a part of the cast. Past casting breakdowns have described this 20-year-old character as physically fit, handsome and confident.
Adam Driver was the first confirmed cast member for this new trilogy. He will be playing the main villain, a Sith lord said to be in the same vein as Darth Vader. Nothing else is known about the mysterious character, except that he will have a relationship with John Boyega's Jedi that mirrors the relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan throughout the first two trilogies. It is possible that in this first movie, he is also an apprentice, as the new cast seems to indicate an older Sith in the midst with Max von Sydow. It is not known if he has any ties to Luke Skywalker or the Skywalker clan. Even if he does, expect that to be kept a secret until its actually revealed in one of the three films. Adam Driver's Girls schedule actually caused conflicts with the Star Wars: Episode VII shooting schedule. It wasn't just the impending Girls Season 4 that was causing a problem, but future seasons as well, as the actor will be starring in Star Wars: Episode VIII and Star Wars: Episode IX. Obviously, those issues have been resolved.
A 30-year-old character actor has long been sought for the role that Oscar Isaac eventually won. Not much is known about this particular character or his place in the storyline. Both Michael Fassbender and Hugo Weaving were at one point considered for the role, called an 'intellectual' in early drafts of the screenplay. The character is not necessarily in shape (a relative of Porkins?), and its possible that he is an older Jedi friend of Luke Skywalker. Oscar Isaac is also the right age to play an Imperial Commander or military officer that has been compared to Matt Damon in Elysium during the casting breakdowns. Others considered for that particular role include Jason Flemyng, Liam McIntyre and Sullivan Stapleton.
We could make the easy joke and say Andy Serkis is set to play Jar Jar Binks, or a descendant of the infamous Gungan, using Motion Capture technology. With the actor's vast experience working in Mo-Cap, starring as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings and Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, it makes sense that Andy Serkis might be playing any number of new CGI characters being added to this universe. But maybe he's been cast solely on his good looks this time out. It's entirely possible that he is playing the 40-year-old Military officer who might be an Imperial Commander. It's unlikely that he is playing the unfit, intelligent 30-year old described in early drafts of the script, a part that seemingly belongs to Oscar Isaac. But knowing Andy Serkis's acting background, it's a pretty safe bet that we'll see a Jar Jar Binks-like character on screen in 2015. Let's just hope they get this all-CGI type of main character right this time. Casting Andy Serkis in this type of role is smart, as he is a fanboy favorite. Even if he's announced as a somewhat questionable addition to the cast, people may be more opened minded simply because Andy Serkis is playing it.
Here's a new name we haven't heard before. Daisy Ridley is a new comer, and a dead ringer for a younger Carrie Fisher. She's totally believable as Han Solo and Princess Leia's daughter, a character long rumored to be a central part of this new trilogy. She is British, having just started acting last year, playing a series of teenage roles on The BBC. From previous casting auditions, we know that she uses a lightsaber, which means she is possibly a Jedi. It's also known that the sequel has been seeking a young woman to play a female villain. Is it possible that Han and Leia's daughter is turning to the dark side of the force? In the previously leaked casting breakdowns, this character has been described as independent, with a good sense of humor, and fit. The only other new female character previously reported on was said to be a mixed-race descendant of Obi-Wan Kenobi. We don't think Daisy Ridley's teenager will be tied to Master Kenobi by blood, and those character traits may have transitioned into John Boyega's lead Jedi apprentice. Other actresses up for this role included Saoirse Ronan, Ksenia Solo and Rachel Hurd-Wood. But you can't deny that she has Carrie Fisher's smile, and a certain Han Solo glint in her eye. We can definitely expect that she is playing one of the Solo children. Will we hear her call Harrison Ford daddy? Will that go over well with fans? God only knows.
With John Boyega taking on the role of lead Jedi, its believed that Domhnall Gleeson is playing Luke Skywalker's son in the movie, a part everyone thought Jesse Plemons had wrapped up. The early casting breakdowns describe the character as funny and handsome, but not necessarily heroic. Other actors at one time said to have read for the role include Alex Pettyfer, Ryan Gosling and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Is it possible that Domhnall Gleeson and John Boyega aren't necessarily friends? And that there is a bit of jealousy running between them?
Iconic actor Max von Sydow was never mentioned in any casting rumors leading up to this big announcement. But he follows a fine tradition of older actors in bad guy roles that include Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin and Christopher Lee as Count Dooku. It is believed that Max von Sydow will be playing a Sith Lord, with Adam Driver serving as his apprentice. It's a role that both Gary Oldman and Fringe star John Noble were at one time rumored to play, and he could serve as an adversary for Luke Skywalker. Its likely that we will see Luke and this Dark Force in an epic lightsaber duel, with Adam Driver stepping into the mix to save his master. Luke needs an old enemy to fight, and we're pretty sure Max von Sydow will bring the badass.
Returning from the original trilogy are:
Han Solo is rumored to have a gigantic role in Star Wars: Episode VII. The new sequel is not relying on existing Expanded Universe storylines, so we're not sure where Han Solo is at this point in time. It's believed that he is still together with Princess Leia, and that they have at least one child together. The new cast rundown seems to indicate that they only have a daughter, who may be a Jedi hurtling towards the Dark Side. How does the former pirate and smuggler deal with this? It's an interesting story arc for the beloved character. And with Harrison Ford getting such a big role in this first of three new movies, it's entirely possible that Han dies by the end of Star Wars: Episode VII. It is something the actor has long wanted, ever since Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi.
As he begins filming this May, 62 year-old Mark Hamill is the same age as Sir Alec Guinness was when he first took on the iconic role of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Look for Luke to have a similar role here as Ben does in the first movie. He will have an apprentice, and possibly a son. Could there be a contentious relationship between the two? A bit of jealousy that drives one of them to the dark side of the force? That's entirely possible. Beyond that, we're not sure what Luke has been up to in the past 30 years.
Looking at Daisy Ridley and that smile of hers, we're pretty sure Princess Leia has a daughter. Will that daughter turn to the dark side? Who knows. The interesting aspect of Leia thirty years removed from the last time we saw her is: Did she become a Jedi? And how has that affected her relationship with Han? What will it mean for her daughter? If J.J. Abrams brings the Princess to the forefront of this story, she may be one of the more textured and interesting players. Does Carrie Fisher still have what it takes to pull it off? Her recent appearance on Legit showed her in great shape, and willing to take on anything thrown her way.
Anthony Daniels is back as C3PO. Was there any question he wouldn't be? Now, the question here is, Does the actor climb back into the suit, or is he going to Mo-Cap it? J.J. Abrams wants to bring a look that is more in touch and tone with the original trilogy, so we may see C3PO in the metallic flesh. Though, that doesn't mean a younger, trimmer man can't stand-in, while Anthony Daniels gives us that iconic voice over from the sidelines.
If Han Solo has a gigantic role in the movie, we can also expect to see a lot of Chewbacca. But after suffering through a double knee surgery, Peter Mayhew may be stepping in only for close-ups. Chewbacca died in the Expanded Universe. Obviously they are not going that route here.
Will he crawl back into the suit? Or is he here just to please longtime fans? Its doubtful anyone needs to be inside R2-D2 at this point, but it's a nice gesture to have him returning.
There you have it. That's your Star Wars: Episode VII. What do you guys think?