It’s been nine months since it was first announced that Disney had bought Lucasfilm, and Star Wars, lock, stock, and barrell. Since then we’ve seen a zillion different rumors about what the future of George Lucas’ beloved franchise will look like. Far fewer have been the actual, confirmed details: J.J. Abrams as director, with Toy Story 3’s Michael Arndt penning the script for Episode VII, and Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg working on other planned Star Wars spin-off movies. Something we haven’t had for a while is a casting rumor, and that’s changed today: scuttlebutt says Disney may be circling Ryan Gosling and Zac Efron for roles in the upcoming Star Wars sequel.
WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS BELOW!
The news comes from the folks at Latino Review, who have a pretty good track record for this kind of thing. LR’s Kellvin Chavez reports that an unnamed source says that Gosling and Efron’s names have been “thrown around a lot” recently, which obviously is a long way from an official confirmation. Still, it’s definitely plausible, especially in the case of Gosling, who’s young, talented, and a hot property at the moment. (As for Efron, well, he’s young. That’s one out of three, at least.)
So who might the pair of young actors be in the running for? According to Latino Review, Gosling is up for the role of Luke Skywalker’s son. In the Expanded Universe, Luke has a son named Ben (after Ben Kenobi), fathered with Mara Jade Skywalker. This would theoretically mean Gosling would be stepping into the role of Ben, but it’s unknown at this point how much of the Expanded Universe the new Star Wars movies will consider canon, if any. As for Efron, LR is unsure who he’d be up for, but if Gosling does indeed become Luke’s son, the most likely scenario would be to have Efron playing one of Han and Leia’s kids. In the EU, they had three kids: Jaina, Jacen, and Anakin. Or the new movie could simply ignore all of that and start with a clean slate based only on the existing six films, but that’s a move that would likely piss off loyal fans who have devoured all that EU content in the past couple of decades.
Episode VII will be Disney’s chance to prove that their ambitious plans for Star Wars will be a good thing, rather than the dire catastrophe predicted by naysayers. The old guard of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill will inevitably be involved in some way, and Episode VII will be a chance for them to pass the torch to the next generation of Star Wars actors. Since the new guys will carry the weight of the newly energetic franchise on their backs, Disney needs either talented actors with established track records or unknowns who can nail the characters. Gosling is top-tier talent, so I’ve got no qualms about his hypothetical involvement, but I’m considerably less enthusiastic about the prospect of Efron. Then again, I’ve been pleasantly surprised enough times over the years (Heath Ledger as the Joker, Chris Evans as Captain America, etc.) that I’m willing to reserve my judgment until we know more.
While Disney and Star Wars didn’t have much of a presence at last week’s San Diego Comic-Con, they’re expected to premiere some news about the franchise’s future at their annual D23 Expo, which is set for August 9-11 in Anaheim. The first casting confirmations are the sort of thing that would be perfect for that venue, so if any of this is true, we will likely find out sooner rather than later.
Star Wars: Episode VII is tentatively slated for release in 2015.