A 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.
So 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?