We’re all well aware by now that five days cannot go by without a Star Wars: Episode VII casting rumor or two, and that most of these announcements are meant to be taken with a margarita glass rim full of salt. So when the website Film Chronicles posts a story with “Benedict Cumberbatch is in Star Wars VII” as the headline, it seems like a high-profile shot in the dark. However, this isn’t a site that normally deals with flimsy conjecture. There may be something to this. Benedict Cumberbatch may actually be in the next Star Wars! Unless, you know, he isn’t.
A lot of noise has surfaced lately saying Lucasfilm will soon announce the first cast member for the upcoming Star Wars sequel, though it’s damned near impossible for anyone to get an official word on anything, as is typical with most J.J. Abrams projects. Getting Cumberbatch involved would be worth a huge announcement, unlike the other recent rumors about Alex Pettyfer and Rachel Hurd-Wood. If only Film Chronicles even hinted at the source for their news. Maybe a little midi-chlorian told them.
Should it be true, this rumor offers up the best possible reason as to why Cumberbatch would have dropped out of filming Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming gothic horror Crimson Peak, which he left last week for no apparent reason. It was reportedly not due to scheduling issues with any other projects, but both movies will be going into production early next year. So maybe that was just a bullshit smoke screen to keep people guessing.
I’m all about this being the real deal, even though I’d prefer Cumberbatch to continue playing nuanced characters, rather than tentpole heroes and villains. Seeing him sternface his way as “Khan Harrison” throughout Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness was more disappointing than I would have hoped for, but I can see why the director would want to keep such a talented actor in his wheelhouse. Plus, the Star Wars universe is full of British people. He’d fit in nicely with Ewan McGregor and a hologram of Alec Guinness.
It’s been a huge year for Cumberbatch, and it’s only getting better. Beyond his upcoming return to the role of Sherlock in the excellent British series, he’s portraying Julian Assange in the Wikileaks drama The Fifth Estate. He’ll also be seen in Steve McQueen’s upcoming biographical drama 12 Years a Slave, and John Wells’ star-studded adaptation of Tracy Letts’ stage play August: Osage County. He’ll also star in Peter Jackson’s next two Hobbit movies, he’s voicing a role in The Penguins of Madagascar, and he’s still set to play codebreaker Alan Turing in the biopic The Imitation Game.
But none of those movies will hold a candle up to the raging wildfire that will be Episode VII. If it turns out he actually is in this flick, what role would you want to see him play? An evil Sith mastermind? A Jedi with a heart of gold? A motion-captured relative of Jar Jar Binks? It’s all up for debate now.