Rumor: Gugu Mbatha-Raw in talks for Episode VIII

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Collider tonight reports that Gugu Mbatha-Raw is joining the cast of Episode VIII. A previous rumor says that she was up for one of two roles alongside Gina Rodriguez and Tatiana Maslany.

Mbatha-Raw is best known for her lead roles in Belle and Beyond the Lights. Sci-fi fans may also remember her from a supporting role in Jupiter Ascending or even as Martha Jones’ sister Tish on Doctor Who.

Whether the second VII role is still in play – or ever was – is unknown. However, a report from earlier today has Maslany in negotiations for the Boston Marathon bombing drama Stronger, which will likely take her out of the running for for Star Wars. (Deja vu much?)

The Force Awakens: Details on Rey’s staff, what will the film be rated?

reyJason at Making Star Wars discusses Rey’s staff. There are some spoilers in the piece, but since there is no way this is the case anyway, let’s put this out: It’s not Darth Plagueis’ staff. It was never going to be Darth Plagueis’ staff. I don’t know where this speculation originated, and I don’t really care, but save it for your fanfics.

→ Scott Mendelson at Forbes considers possible ratings for The Force Awakens.

→ At Yahoo, Domhnall Gleeson talks about how Harry Potter prepped him for Star Wars, and reveals that the ‘Starkiller Base’ slip up… Wasn’t actually a slip.

→ Looking ahead: Director Rian Johnson actually tweeted a photo of his Episode VIII script last night. (Just a cover page, spoilerphobes.) Here’s the story of how it happened.

→ Also, will Star Wars return to Skellig Michael for a third round of filming in 2016?

Rumor: New Episode VIII role is TWO roles, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw may be up for it

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Da7e at Latino Review claims that the Episode VIII role that Tatiana Maslany and Gina Rodriguez were rumored for is actually two “substantial” roles that “share the same shortlist.” He also adds a new name: Gugu Mbatha-Raw of Beyond the Lights and Belle. She’s already paid a few space opera dues with a supporting role in Jupiter Ascending.

Olivia Cooke (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) was also up for the role (roles?) at the time of the initial report, but she’s reportedly in negotiations to play the female lead in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, which likely takes her out of the running for Star Wars.

Skellig Michael is in for Episode VIII

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We’ve been hearing for quite a while now that a return to Ireland’s Skellig Michael was in the cards for very soon now, and now Lucasfilm themselves have confirmed (to Entertainment Weekly) that Star Wars will be shooting on the island this month for Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII.

J.J. Abrams and at least two actors filmed for three days on Skellig Michael in July 2014.

EW also reports that some reshoots for The Force Awakens have already occurred, including some around the time of D23.

Roundup: Benicio del Toro says he’s “like the villain” in Episode VIII

It's clearly not a mystery box.
It’s clearly not a mystery box.
Benicio del Toro continues to be less than secretive about his status regarding Episode VIII. He told a Spanish radio station (transcribed and translated by a Star Wars 7 News reader) that he’s “like the villain” and that he believes they begin shooting in March.

→ A new image banner, has been spotted – it’s made up of two fairly familiar pieces, though: The First Order images we saw on Empire and the First Order assembled. (via)

→ An analyst estimates that The Force Awakens “could generate $5 billion in consumer merchandise sales in its first year of release,” per The Hollywood Reporter. In $150 increments, I expect.

→ Speaking of merchandise, there have been a handful of reviews of the Cover Girl line poping up. Today’s is from Tracy and Amanda at Making Star Wars, and another of a couple of the lipsticks from Love for Lacquer.

→ Five questions with John Boyega.

→ ComicBook.com has a preview of Shattered Empire #1

→ Spoiler(ish) corner: Indie Revolver has some luggabeast concept art.