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May the 4th: Star Wars Episode VII Casting Thoughts

Luke Miksa's: The Negative Space Bar

Last week saw the long-awaited — and much delayed — first casting announcement for the next generation in the Star Wars saga. It is the as-yet untitled Star Wars Episode VII, to be directed by JJ Abrams and released December 2015. Here are some key omissions and additions:

Missing Names

A large portion of returning names have been announced: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, and Peter Mayhew; but there are some overlooked names that I would still like to see. The following may be announced later on, or they may appear in surprise cameos, but any continuation of Return of the Jedi would not be complete without…

Billy Dee Williams

Lando Calrissian

This is a major name to not have in the first official announcement. By the conclusion of the original saga, Lando Calrissian became one of the major protagonists: he helped orchestrate the rescue of Han Solo from Jabba’s palace, and he led the Rebellion in its attack against the second Death Star. He was actually the man to destroy the second Death Star, piloting the Millennium Falcon (which is sure to make an appearance). Lando Calrissian not being a part of this new incarnation is a terrible miss.

Bring back his co-pilot Nien Nunb while you’re at it. And Lobot. Bring back Lobot.

Frank Oz

Yoda

I believe Frank Oz has retired from puppetry — he has definitely retired from The Muppets — but his inclusion would be a nice touch. Although George Lucas preferred CGI creatures over felt and strings, the more practical approach JJ Abrams seems to be adopting for the new films may open up a role for the talented puppeteer.

Warwick Davis

Wicket

There will not be any Ewoks in the upcoming films (hopefully), but Warwick Davis has built a career playing unique characters: he got his break through LucasFilm productions Return of the Jedi and a starring role in Willow, as well as the standalone Ewok movies. Here’s hoping there’s an appropriate character in the script for Davis to play.

Denis Lawson

Wedge

Wedge Antilles is the only minor character from the Rebellion to take part in — and survive — all major battles from the original trilogy. A cameo from Lawson would be great fan service. Also, I think he’s cool.

While we’re speaking about fan service, what about this guy??

Admiral-Ackbar

New Names

What brilliant casting is Andy Serkis! He is known for his motion-capture acting (Gollum in LOTR, Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, King Kong), so you can imagine he has been cast for a similar role based solely on his mastery of the art. I’d take Serkis over Ahmed Best any day of the week!

Each trilogy brings an esteemed and established actor into the fold — think Alec Guinness and Christopher Lee — and Max Von Sydow is another actor to add to that list. His name alone classes the joint right up. I can imagine him as a Jedi master, but on which side?

Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver are both at breakout stages of their careers. Isaac is hot coming off the critical success of the Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis, and Driver stars in the hit HBO series Girls. Isaac has the classic Hollywood appeal that could easily place him amongst the Skywalker/Solo clan, and with Driver’s unique look I wouldn’t be surprised seeing him on the dark side of the Force.

Also announced and returning from previous instalments are sound designer Ben Burtt and composer John Williams. Both have been integral to the sound of Star Wars over the years so their inclusion is great news. Lawrence Kasdan, the screenwriter of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, also returns to the franchise, replacing original scribe Michael Arndt.

One name however that I have not seen on IMDB is special effects master Phil Tippett, who innovated many effects seen in A New Hope and has been innovating ever since. Seeing that he has been brought back for Jurassic World but not Star Wars is disappointing.

Phil-Tippett-Star-Wars

The casting news is the first of many announcements to be made, and expectations are high due to it being the first Star Wars production after Disney‘s acquisition of LucasFilm. The next step in the process is an announcement of an official title, which many are expecting shortly.

After the prequel trilogy garnered much derision, the information that has been revealed so far — such as Abrams decision to shoot on film (as well as certain scenes in IMAX), and a move to more practical effects and location shoots — have given me A NEW HOPE* for the series.

But questions remain: will the focus on the older cast be detrimental or beneficial to the overall direction of the series? Does the public want to see a focus on newer characters — such as in Michael Arndt’s original script — or is everyone on board to see the continued adventures of old Luke, Leia, and Han? Is R2-D2 rusty? Will Chewbacca be grey? Discuss in the comments below.

*Sorry

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1 Comment

  1. I dont mind the big focus on the old cast members but only if it is used as a hand over to the new cast. I basically want to see them fazed out and the torch handed over for the next two movies. It is definitely intended to please the fans of the original series but you’ve had your moment. Move on.

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