Posted on Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 by Peter Sciretta
By Peter Sciretta, Russ Fischer, Angie Han and Germain Lussier
The announcement of the full cast for Star Wars Episode VII sent a ripple of excitement through the movie world. Not only because the official announcement ends of months of speculation, but because this cast is excellent. The lineup Abrams has chosen for Episode VII is one we’d be excited to see in any film, so it’s a good first move for Star Wars.
While we know little about the relative newcomer Daisy Ridley, who plays the female lead, the rest of the new cast is a collection of great talent drawn from a variety of acting backgrounds: John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Max von Sydow, Adam Driver, Andy Serkis and Domhnall Gleeson.
That’s a great group of guys. The pleasure of that roster is diminished only by wondering how there can’t be any room for more than one major new female role. The classic Star Wars status quo (one woman, and a bunch of dudes) is almost a running joke at this point, and we hoped that Abrams might have broken that barrier as he cast the new film. An offset, however, is that Daisy Ridley could have a particularly important role. If she ends up being one of the true leads of the series, that would change things just a bit. And while this cast remains predominantly white, John Boyega held point position in the official announcement, giving rise to the assumption that he’s the lead. Boyega, born in London to Nigerian parents, is not the typical face of Star Wars. If he’s the lead, that’s a significant step in a new direction for the series.
Below, read up on the backgrounds of each of the new additions to the Star Wars universe, along with speculation and what actual data we have about the roles for each cast member.
You know John Boyega as Moses, the star of Joe Cornish’s awesome Attack the Block. He’s a charismatic, super-likeable actor who has made plenty of smart choices since that debut. He did an HBO pilot with Spike Lee; has a role in the upcoming 24: Live Another Day; and shows real acting chops in this year’s Sundance film Imperial Dreams, as a father, recently released from prison, raising a young son. He dropped out of a Jesse Owens’ biopic to take this role in Star Wars.
While we don’t know exactly who he’ll play, it’s a safe bet with his age and physicality, he’s some kind of young Jedi. And the fact he was listed first in the announcement suggests he might be the lead character. Plus, in this early confirmed casting breakdown, he meets the requirements for a “A late twentysomething male, fit, handsome and confident.”
Daisy Ridley is the one actor revealed for Star Wars Episode VII that you probably don’t know. Her name was literally never mentioned once in past conversations about the film, yet she’s nabbed what’s likely one of the lead roles in the entire new trilogy. Rumors long suggested J.J. Abrams wanted this new trilogy to star a woman, and also create a new star. In Ridley, he potentially gets both.
Ridley is probably playing the daughter of Han Solo and Princess Leia — a supposition bolstered by her position at the table read between Ford and Fisher — or potentially the granddaughter of Obi-Wan Kenobi, a long rumored character. If that role is still in the script she’d have to be playing it, as she’s the only new female added to the universe, a curious decision indeed. T
As for her previous work, her IMDB has a few small TV credits, most notably the Jeremy Piven show Mr. Selfridge. Plus you can head to her agent’s page for a quick history lesson. A demo reel of her previous work was circulating on YouTube this morning, but has been pulled. That reel led some to think she’ll play a sort of wisecracking badass — not unlike Han Solo, perhaps — but that is yet another unconfirmed detail.
Also of note, in the original casting breakdown, there was a role for a “Late-teen female, independent, good sense of humour, fit.” That seems to fit Ridley, however at that time there was a second female too, described as “A second young female, also late teens, tough, smart and fit.” The script likely changed at some point as there seems to be only one lead female. UPDATE: Or is there?
For the past few months, the one new name everyone was banking on being a part of the film was Adam Driver. Driver, best known for his work on HBO’s Girls, has become a rising star of late. He was in Inside Llewyn Davis (with now-Star Wars co-star Oscar Isaac), Frances Ha, J. Edgar, Lincoln and many more. He’s also soon scheduled to work with Martin Scorsese. But now, he steps into the spotlight for what’s rumored to be the Darth Vader-type lead villain role.
Driver’s got a unique, otherworldly look, with an acting range that goes from goofy and fun to downright creepy and frightening. It’s no surprise Abrams would want him for this series. In the early cast breakdown, Driver definitely fits the role of “Thirtysomething male, intellectual. Apparently doesn’t need to be fit.”
I guess, like us, J.J. Abrams really liked Inside Llewyn Davis. Not only did he cast Adam Driver, he got the film’s star too. Though Isaac had become a pretty hot commodity in Hollywood after the Coen Brothers film, it wasn’t until this week that he was named as a possible cast member before Tuesday’s confirmation. You might also know him as the bad guy in Sucker Punch, Prince John in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood and from a smallish role in Drive.
As for what role Isaac could play, while can easily be pegged as playing bad guys, I see him as a leader of the Rebellion. A man of importance, but maybe not a man of the Force. I’m thinking kind of a Admiral Ackbar or Lando Calrissian type. Maybe even a scoundrel in the mold of Han Solo. As for the early casting breakdown, he sounds very much like the “Forty something male, fit, military type.”