first day of new Star Wars shooting

Now that we’ve had a few hours to digest and discuss the names of actors who are part of Star Wars Episode VII, we figured it was worth looking at a few major names that weren’t mentioned. StarWars.Com released a very short and sweet announcement of the cast and crew, but three major names were oddly, or maybe predictably, absent. They were original Episode VII screenwriter Michael Arndt, series creator and consultant George Lucas and hero of the rebellion, Billy Dee Williams. We’ll break down the missing Star Wars names below.

Billy Dee Williams

Lando calrissian Billy Dee Williams

Only two people have ever blown up a Death Star: Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian. One is in Star Wars Episode VII and, so far, the other is not. Sure Mark Hamill is about 15 years younger than Billy Dee Williams but Lando finished Return of the Jedi as one of the primary leaders of the the Rebellion. Odds are, he’d still be around 20-30 years later. Not seeing his name alongside the rest of the original cast was a huge surprise but, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t play some small role.

George Lucas

George Lucas camera

This is by far the most surprising omission. Lucas obviously created the franchise, directed four of the six in canon films and built the entire story. He was said to be “constantly talking” with writer/director J.J. Abrams at one point (but not at another point) and his outlines for a sequel trilogy were a major selling point when Disney bought Lucasfilm in October 2012. However, rumor had it Lucas wanted this film to see the original characters in smaller roles and Abrams disagreed. Maybe at that point, Lucas more fully embraced his desire to transition away from Lucasfilm (hence Kathleen Kennedy’s inclusion in the photo). Either way, shouldn’t he at least be mentioned on this occasion?

Michael Arndt

Michael Ardnt 2007

After Disney bought Lucasfilm, the first official announcement we heard about Star Wars Episode VII was Michael Arndt would be writing the screenplay. That screenplay reportedly centered on the kids of original characters Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, as outlined by Lucas himself. However, once Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan took over, Arndt was reportedly pushed out and little is known how much of his screenplay remains. Vague rumors have been floating around about him sticking with the franchise for Episode VIII or something else, but that’s not even close to confirmed and his involvement in the final version of Episode VII is seemingly non-existant.

Now are any of these omissions something to be worried about? No. Arndt makes sense, Lucas and Williams slightly less so, but you’ll never be able to separate their impact on the Star Wars Universe. And J.J. Abrams knows that. Plus, confirmed and essential pieces to the puzzle like John Williams and Ben Burtt aren’t in the photo (or maybe there are, there are some cut off people at the very bottom). Basically though, not everyone who is going to make Star Wars Episode VII good or bad got a shout out today.

Who else were you surprised not to see in the announcement?

EDIT: Some wishlist suggestions: Denis Lawson, Warrick Davis, Frank Oz, Ian McDiarmid, Jeremy Bulloch, Ahmed Best. Maybe not that last one.

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