Analysis: Thoughts on the Episode VII cast

cast-daisyA few days late on this, perhaps, but this has been quite a slog, hasn’t it? In any case, we have our cast – or at least the better part of it.

In short, there are a lot of interesting possibilities here for everyone, and while many of us may have qualms about the gender diversity of the overall group, you certainly can’t say any of them are boring.

Let’s see what we can unpack here.

And yes, of course I’m guessing. Aren’t we all?

Daisy Ridley’s status as the only new woman, frustrating as it may be, at least gives us one pretty good idea about her role: She is almost certainly one of the new trio, perhaps even the ‘lead’ member ala Luke and Anakin. Much has been made of her seat between Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, but she does look like Leia and Padme, so if anyone here is playing a Skywalker descendant? It’s probably her.

(There’s also Carrie Fisher’s tweet this morning, if one dares to take her literally: “A poet needs a mentor, an actor needs a momtor…” Please tell me me they have a documentary film crew on set with Fisher as much as possible. I’m sure at least some of her advice to Ridley will be fit to share with the public.)

Our second contender for the trio? Well, the internet has that pegged as John Boyega, and I think that’s a pretty safe assumption. We know he has experience with a sword (a katana!) and everyone who possibly can is raving about his performance in Attack the Block. Now, that doesn’t mean he’ll be a playing a Jedi or a Force-sensitive, any more than them casting a black guy automatically means the character is Lando’s son, but if I was betting on either of the two, it’d be the one with a lightsaber. And yes, his name came first on the release, though that could also be because he’s one of the few young guys here we’d actually heard of as being in contention beforehand – or just to throw us off.

cast-mysteriesSo if these are two-thirds of the new trio, we’re in pretty good shape, diversity-wise. And the question becomes: Who’s our likely third? The Han Solo-esque Oscar Isaac? Possible Skywalker Domhnall Gleeson? Is Adam Driver not going to be the villain, as has been reported?

Sorry EU fans, I know some of you are clinging to this, but I can’t see either Driver or Isaac as Jacen Solo, or even a Jacen-like Solo gone bad. If Riley is the Solo kid, I see her as the only Solo kid – which is a nice departure, honestly. There are enough coincidences in Star Wars without throwing in a second set of Skywalker twins.

Isaac’s name is fourth on the release, after Driver, and he’s one of our more familiar faces, having recently headlined the Coen Brother’s Inside Llewyn Davis. (He’s also Hispanic, for those keeping track.) If you take the groupings at the script read to mean anything, he’s sitting between Andy Serkis and Boyega. Are they buddies? Smugglers? Is Serkis their boss or (Jedi?) mentor? Hell, the younger men could all be Luke’s kids (adopted?) or apprentices.

EDIT: Something that came up on Twitter in conversation with Alexander Gaultier : If Isaac is the casting call’s “military man,” could he be Han’s mentee? What “if the new Big Three is Ridley/Boyega/Isaac as rumored today, each taught by one of the originals?”

Serkis is interesting – it’s easy to jump right to the assumption that his character will be motion capture, but let’s not forget he’s a fine actor regardless of technology.

Next to Serkis we have Mark Hamill and Anthony Daniels, and then our final wild card – Domhnall Gleeson. The casting of a redhead – a Weasley no less – has led to a lot of frantic speculation that he could be playing Ben Skywalker – or a version of him, in any case. It’s certainly plausible that Gleeson could be playing Luke’s son – and his position next to Kathleen Kennedy at the read is additional fodder for his role being an important one – but let’s not jump to conclusions. Remember, this is Star Wars – they might end up putting him in motion capture or painting him green, for all we know. After all, if last week’s Expanded Universe announcement said anything, it was “don’t get your hopes up.” Still, if one is going by the seat order, he’s likely to be sharing a lot of lines with Hamill and Daniels.

Not present at the table read? Max von Sydow. Several decades older than our original trilogy heroes, he’s perfectly suited to play a high-placed survivor of the old Empire, undead Sith Lord, or political power player. An Alderaani who was offworld during A New Hope? An Order 66 survivor? If you believe the movie is going to cross over directly with Rebels, he could very well be playing the mysterious Inquisitor – or not.

A few additional thoughts:

→ I would by no means count Billy Dee Williams out for good. Yes, he’s our most major OT alumnus not set up for a return, but I wonder if we’ll get a mention of Lando and/or his potential offspring in Episode VII to pave way for an appearance in Episode VIII. It’s not much comfort, but I can’t see Lando not showing up for this entire trilogy, either.

→ There’s still the matter of the second female role, presumably the one that Lupita Nyong’o and Maisie Richardson-Sellers were/are up for. Where does she fit into all this? Sorry, but I can’t help but think this new Asajj Ventress ‘rumor’ is exactly as bullshit as the Ahsoka one that preceded it. And wouldn’t it be nice to see a woman of color play a human for once?

→ Who’s going to be Obi-wan/Qui-Gon? Is ‘dying mentor’ set up to be Ford’s ‘major role,’ or not? We’re all expecting it at this point, but killing off a character we’ve already spent three movies and 30+ years with is a bit heavy for the first film. In that case, Serkis or von Sydow – as the most well-known new-to-Star Wars actors here – are my wild cards for the spot.

In any case, Hamill this morning: “UK table read- I was knocked out by the diverse & extraordinarily talented new cast members. WOW they’re good! The saga is in superb hands.”

If you can’t trust Luke Skywalker, who can you trust?

14 thoughts on “Analysis: Thoughts on the Episode VII cast

  1. lovelucas

    Great guesses – I’ve thought the same thing re: a survivor of Order 66. I’m thinking Daisy is a Skywalker, too. I do think Oscar Issac can play just about anything. I hope he’s signed on for all 3 films. Carrie is going to be a goldmine. Hope they don’t gag her!

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      1. Adam Morgan

        Her tweets are vague and bizarre enough that I don’t think they’ll gag her. If anything, they start more rumors than they answer. She may actually be just what they want.

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  2. WFDT

    We all know how much Ford dislikes the character of Solo. I’m betting he buys it in this one.

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  3. ImperialGirl

    I’d like it if Von Sydow ISN’T a creepy villain. THAT would be surprising. Looking at Boyega’s IMBD page…I’m not familiar with him, but I am content with this casting decision and do not actually care all that much what they have him do as long as he is on screen. A lot. (But I am apparently becoming a dirty old woman.)

    I am thinking that besides backing up a truck of money to Harrison Ford’s house they must have promised him Indy V. He LIKES Indiana Jones.

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    1. Dunc Post author

      I’d love it if they do play von Sydow against type. Or if he is a baddie, at least have him not be a Sith/Imperial, because been there/done that.

      (We can both be dirty old ladies? I like that none of the guys are typical Hollywood looking bland dudes – they all have character.)

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  4. Aaron

    Another hint that Daisy will be playing the new Jedi lead, i.e. a Skywalker or more likely a Solo: Her father told the Mirror that she was training all day. Okay, that could mean that she’s learning how to use a blaster without making the sound effects herself, but I think it’s pretty safe to assume that she’s going through her lightsaber routines.

    The other interesting aspect about this: According to the Hollywood Reporter, Daisy was cast in February, with Adam Driver a close second at around the same time. My guess: If Ms. Ridley is indeed training for a lightsaber duel, it’s reasonable to assume that it will be against the guy who had about the same amount of time to learn the routine.

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    1. Dunc Post author

      I read somewhere on Tuesday (and I can’t recall where, so no idea if it was a solid source or not) that Driver and Boyega had both been lightsaber training for a while now, too.

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  5. Paula

    I’m seriously wondering if JJ is going to make Carrie hand over her phone while on set. LOL You just know she is going to be the problem child where secrecy control is concerned.

    Then again, they should maybe set up this whole spy-level thing and let Carrie be the one who “lets things out.” The Official Teaser of Episode VII.

    As for Von Sydow, I was wondering if he might not just be providing a voice for a costumed character, since he isn’t there for the read-through.

    And I’d love for Serkis to have a non-motion-capture role for this film.

    The WAIT! Ugh!

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  6. JabbaJohnL

    If there’s any clues hidden here at all, I bet that Andy Serkis and Peter Mayhew’s similar positioning in the photo – both are on the outside of the photo, both are sitting alone, both are intently reading the script and not talking to anyone – could be a hint that Serkis is going to be the “Chewie” of the next series. He is indeed a fine actor, but Kennedy worked with him on Tintin, and it’s almost a guarantee that they’ll have CGI characters so why not bring in the person who’s most familiar and skilled with such performances. The fact that Serkis and Mayhew are not talking to anyone could be a reference to them not having intelligible dialogue (another thing Serkis has been known for in King Kong and Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and the fact that they’re so intently studying the dialogue could be a joke on the same idea. Or it could just mean that they want to read the script. OVER-ANALYSIS!

    Re: Billy Dee Williams not being in the cast, I find it amusing that people complained about too many OT characters showing up in the PT and are now complaining that not enough OT characters are showing up in the ST.

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    1. Dunc Post author

      I saw that a few times and it seems unlikely. I mean, yeah, he could pull off Alec Guinness, but Ewan McGregor is right there. Why add a third Obi-wan in the mix when you could just use Ewan or Yoda or, hell, give Hayden Christensen a call.

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  7. CassieS

    As much as I want the fan service of Gleeson as a redheaded Skywalker son – please oh please – he’s rather charmingly goofy, self-deprecatingly funny and slightly awkward in his interviews (yes, that’s a good thing). I’m beginning to wonder if he isn’t filling the usual Simon Pegg role in JJ Abrams’s films. Y’know, the hero’s ginger comedic sidekick.

    But hey, if JJ wants to pander to EU fans with a Skywalker son possessing Mara’s trademark hair color, pander away. Please. I beg him. I’m not proud. Not at all.

    If they put ALL the characters everyone wants to see in the first film, the film would have no time for anything but the actors walking up to the camera, stating their character name, and walking away. I have zero doubt that we won’t eventually get as much or more material filling in the backstories between the OT and the ST as we did in the previous EU. In fact, I’m rather afraid of it.

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