Variety today reports that Ed Speleers (Downton Abbey, Eragon) John Boyega (Attack the Block,) and theater actors Matthew James Thomas and Ray Fisher are in contention for a lead role in Episode VII. The earlier rumored Jesse Plemons was sort of confirmed to be up for something by J.J. Abrams. UPDATE: Apparently Abrams visited the Downton set last year. As a fan, or on a scouting mission?
Variety says the character is a Jedi apprentice, and they go on to say:
Sources also indicate the reason for the delay has to do whether execs and creatives want someone of a different ethnicity from the previous Caucasian leads. Abrams has said on numerous occasions that he wants to have a diversified cast, which is why actors like David Oyewolo and Michael B. Jordan tested early on.
…Yay? Of course fans have already jumped on this character being a possible (biracial? adopted?) Skywalker, which would probably warrant more discussion than an unrelated apprentice.
While it’s nice to have some names, it’s hard to really get excited about any of these folks yet. (Particularly Speleers, the only one I’ve actually seen act, because… Eragon. I said back then that he looked like “the unnatural offspring of Hayden Christenson and Mark Hamill.” Not exactly the ‘I called it’ that I’m hoping for.) I admit I’m hoping that Episode VII will have a female lead – and it’s been a while since we’ve heard anything on that front from the trades. Sigh.