The cast of Star Wars: Episode VII is now official, announced by the team on StarWars.com, complete with a photo of a read-through. As Mike Fleming Jr reported yesterday, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver and John Boyega are aboard, as are Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Max von Sydow and Daisy Ridley. They join returning franchise players Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker.
This pic has been supernova-hot ever since Disney acquired Lucasfilm in October 2012 and announced its intention to reboot the franchise. That got the hard-core fans (there are legion) excited, but the question remains if the franchise can be restored to anywhere near the status it reached before George Lucas essentially cratered the second three movies in the series. Now the speculation will begin if this group has what it takes to make it happen, led by Abrams, who has the sci-fi cred and now has picked his soldiers to head into battle. He is directing, co-writing the script with Lawrence Kasdan and producing with Kathleen Kennedy and Bryan Burk.
Disney has set a December 18, 2015 release date for the first pic in a planned trilogy.
Little is known about who will play what, though it’s thought Driver, a standout on HBO’s Girls, will play the main villain. Also notable: there is only one new female character on this list joining Fisher. The biggest reaction so far has been to Ridley — a Brit actress who has been in a handful of UK series including Mr Selfridge — both because she is fairly unknown and because she’s the only new face keeping this from becoming a total sausage party.
“We are so excited to finally share the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII,” Abrams said in the announcement today, which puts a cap on months of cast speculation — most of it BS. (The announcement also included a cast photo.) “It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again. We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud.”
The rest of the newcomers offer an interesting mix. Boyega, who starred in Joe Cornish’s 2011 genre pic Attack The Block, is an up-and-comer and will become more known after 24: Live Another Day premieres next month. Gleeson was one of the Weasley Brothers in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows and starred opposite Rachel McAdams in About Time. Isaac starred in the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, and of course Serkis needs no introduction to Star Wars‘ target audience having played King Kong, Caesar from Planet Of The Apes and Gollum from Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings and Hobbit movies — the latter role garnering some Oscar-season heat which prompted discussion about whether performance-capture roles should be in the mix for awards consideration.