Neither the fact that J.J. Abrams is keeping secrets, nor the fact that Disney is playing Star Wars: Episode VII close to the vest, should be surprising. That’s standard operating procedure on both fronts. What is surprising, if these latest reports are in fact true, is how well, in today’s hyperaware landscape, they were able to pull it off. Apparently production has already started on the return to that far away galaxy, and they are filming right now. The cast may not be finalized, but that isn’t going to stop them from putting images on film.
We expected production to start soon—the Internet scuttlebutt has been saying May for the last few months—but in a recent interview with THR, Disney Studio Chairman Alan Horn let the news slip. While discussing the casting process, and how much, though not all, of the main pieces are in place, Horn said, in an offhand aside, “We’re actually shooting some of it now.” He didn’t say anything more than that, but that’s enough to get us all chattering.
While there may actual, honest-to-god filming going on, Horn lays the bulk of the blame for the delays in casting on the time it’s taken to work out the kinks in the screenplay. Academy Award-winner Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) took the first crack at the script, though Lawrence Kasdan and Abrams took over for the most recent draft. Word on the street is that Arndt’s story focused more on a new generation, while the Kasdan/Abrams version is said to incorporate the original trio of Luke Skywalker, Princes Leia, and Han Solo into the action. Like most things with Episode VII, we’ll probably have to wait until December 18, 2015 to find out for sure.
One of the tricky elements for the script is the timeframe. Horn confirms that the action picks up after the conclusion of Return of the Jedi, admitting that “where 6 left off is 35 years ago by the time this is released,” though he offered not further elaboration on the matter. Horn also confirmed that they are, at least for now, taking the films one at a time, and that they’re only filming Episode VII this time out.
Check out what else Horn has to say here:
Right now, the casting is completely up in the air. There are, of course, all sorts of rumors floating around. Some, like Girls star Adam Driver as the villain, have been around for a while and seem pretty legit, while others have largely fallen by the wayside. The most recent rumors linked 12 Years A Slave’s Lupita Nyong’o to the film, while there were five names—Jesse Plemons, John Boyega, Ed Speelers, Michael James Thomas, and Ray Fisher—reportedly in the running for one of the male leads, though recent casting news may indicate Plemons is out of the chase. Though nothing is concrete, most of us expect Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford (and Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca) to return to the fold. There have even been rumors that the film could revisit both Hoth and Tattooine, but at this point, all we can do is wait. As Horn tells the crowd, “Patience you must have.”