It’s been relatively quiet on the Star Wars Episode VII front these past few months, but as we approach the start of principal photography, we should start seeing more and more concrete info start leaking. The Hollywood Reporter just published a host of rumors about just who J.J. Abrams is meeting with, and just what form the script is in right now.
We already got news that Breaking Bad’s Jesse Plemons is up for a part (Luke Jr.?) but now a whole bunch of new, more familiar names are starting to pop up. According to the trade magazine’s Heat Vision blog, those names include Michael Fassbender, Hugo Weaving, and Girls‘ Adam Driver (who most recently was said to be up for the part of Nightwing in Batman Vs. Superman). Heat Vision’s sources don’t seem to know who Fassbender is auditioning to be playing, although he looks young enough to conceivably play Han and Leia’s son. Adam Driver is also young enough to possibly fill that role. Hugo Weaving may also be in the running for the role of an Imperial Commander. This is maybe the biggest story spoiler in this whole scoop, because it confirms that the Empire, at least in some form, is still in play as the bad guys in this new trilogy. Maybe that whole big party on Endor at the end of Return of the Jedi was a tad premature.
Apparently, Episode VII has changed rather significantly since Little Miss Sunshine screenwriter Michael Arndt departed the project as writer and scripting duties were taken up by Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, who of course wrote Empire and Jedi back in the day. While this news made many fans jump for joy, the truth is that Arndt’s last few writing credits have been the well-received The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Toy Story 3, while Kasdan’s last few writing credits have been Dreamcatcher and Darling Companion. The days of Raiders of the Lost Ark are way behind him, folks… just sayin’. There might be reason to be nervous.
According to the story, the reason for the parting of ways was not due to a time frame issue, but due to a difference in opinion of which characters to emphasize. Arndt is said to have focused more on the offspring of Luke, Han, and Leia, with the original trilogy trio taking on supporting roles, probably like Obi-Wan was for Luke in A New Hope. Abrams apparently wanted Episode VII to focus on the original “big three,” so audiences could have one more chance to enjoy them before a fitting send-off (considering how much Abrams is a sucker for nostalgia pieces, this doesn’t surprise me at all). The new characters of the kids of Han and Leia and Luke will now be in supporting roles, according to these sources, and take center stage in Episode VIII and IX.
Some characters have disappeared from the Arndt version of the script and new ones are being created. Abrams and Kasdan are now overhauling the script, which means many of the actors who had met and auditioned earlier this year have been taken out of the mix for various reasons. One actor who met with Abrams in the fall before the changes were made was Mud star Tye Sheridan, but now it is said that there is no need for such a young actor, and therefore Sheridan won’t be involved. In another case, one part that was initially conceived as a 20-year old male is now being rewritten to be a 40-year old. Fassbender, maybe?
Maybe the biggest story bombshell dropped in this report is that Abrams and Lucasfilm are now searching for a 20-something female actress who is either of mixed race or black. The rumored part is that of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s daughter or granddaughter. To which I say, HUH?? Didn’t the prequel trilogy firmly establish that the Old Jedi Order was forbidden to marry and have children, which is why Anakin kept it a secret? (Hate on the prequels all you want, but they’re canon.) And since Obi-Wan wasn’t married… does that mean he has an illegitimate mixed race child from some short lived affair during the Clone Wars? While I think that’s kind of awesome, I have a hard time seeing Disney going for something like that in its tentpole family franchise. But who knows? All we know right now is that Star Wars Episode VII hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, and some real announcements are going to be made here very, very soon.