The closer we get to spring, when production on Star Wars: Episode VII, J.J. Abrams’ first stab at the franchise, will reportedly begin, the more the rumors start to fly. Just the other day we heard that Breaking Bad Jesse Plemons was being called in for a second audition for a part that some believe could be Luke Skywalker’s son, and now it’s being reported that Michael Fassbender, Hugo Weaving, and Adam Driver are all under consideration for a role. There are also some new details that, while not entirely specific, point to the direction of the plot.
According to THR, Fassbender, Weaving, and Driver are the latest in a long line of actors have auditioned, might audition, could possibly audition, or that someone mentioned as perhaps could be right for some part. It’s an illustrious group, and includes names like Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael B. Jordan, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alex Pettyfer, Saoirse Ronan, Sullivan Stapleton, and Jack O’Connor.
As usual, nothing is official, and this rumor is, just like all the ones that came before, unsubstantiated hearsay. We don’t even know if they’re up for the same role, which would be strange because they’re such very different types. But that’s not a bad group of actors. Fassbender is in the discussion for all manner of end-of-the-year awards for his supporting role as a twisted plantation owner in 12 Years A Slave. Matrix star Weaving pops up in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies. Driver is best known for his role on HBO’s Girls, but has a small, but memorable part in the Coen Brother’s latest, Inside Llewyn Davis.
Episode VII has long been rumored to be bringing back the big three stars of the original trilogy, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). The size of the roles they play may also have been a big reason for the highly public split between production and original screenwriter Michael Arndt. Arndt left last fall, leaving the writing duties to Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan.
According to the report:
Arndt is said to have focused on the offspring of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), with the original trilogy’s heroes taking on supporting roles. Abrams, however, wanted Episode VII to focus on the classic trio of characters, so audiences could have one more chance to enjoy them before a fitting send-off. The new characters, the offspring, will now be in supporting roles, according to these sources, and take center stage in Episode VIII and IX. Some characters have disappeared from the Arndt script and new ones are being added.
I like the idea of going on one last adventure with the old guard. What “fitting send-off” means remains to be seen, however. That could mean a graceful retirement full of peace, hanging out with their spawn, growing old in space rocking chairs. Or will we see them die? If that’s the case it could traumatize an entire generation of us who grew up with these characters as dear, dear friends.
One of the new additions could be another new family member for a beloved character, but not one that you necessarily expect.
The latest bit to surface this week is that Abrams and Lucasfilm are now searching for a twentysomething female actress who is either of mixed race or black. The rumor is that Obi-Wan Kenobi had a daughter or granddaughter.
That one is, admittedly, a bit of a curve ball, mostly because it’s difficult to picture Obi-Wan—either Alec Guiness’ version or Ewan McGregor’s—involved in any sort of romantic entanglement at all. It makes sense that he wouldn’t go through is entire life without hooking up with anyone, but that’s just an issue that never came up.
All of these changes that Kasdan and Abrams have made may mean that some of the people who have auditioned, or at least been considered, may not be in the running anymore since those characters no longer exist. Tye Sheridan, who raised a few eyebrows in 2013’s hit Mud, is one actor who may be out in the cold. THR’s sources say that Episode VII is no longer looking for actors that young, and “in another case, one part that was initially conceived as a 20-year-old male is now being rewritten to be 40 years old.”
What do you think of this new crop of actors and these changes to the story?
Star Wars: Episode VII opens on December 18, 2015.