Posted on Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 by Peter Sciretta
Harrison Ford, in the original trilogy, played played Han Solo, a smuggler who was caught up with the Rebel Alliance and helped Luke Skywalker destroy the Death Star (twice). Harrison Ford wanted Han Solo to die in Return of the Jedi “to give it some bottom”, but according to Ford “George [Lucas] didn’t think there was any future in dead Han toys.” The fact that Ford has returned for the new Star Wars chapter may be telling. There have been rumors of a one-film contract, which could mean that Ford might finally get his wish and be the Agent Coulson of this new saga.
Since Star Wars, Ford has gone on to star in the Indiana Jones franchise, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, the Jack Ryan movies Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, The Fugitive, Air Force One, Cowboys & Aliens and Ender’s Game. An interesting bit of trivia, Ford starred in JJ Abrams’ first produced feature film screenplay Regarding Henry.
That Carrie Fisher will be back as Princess Leia, is no great surprise — particularly since the actress has been telling people she’d be back since about 2012. Moreover, she’s actually been spotted recently in London, where Episode VII is shooting. She’s jokingly suggested that Leia, post-Episode VI, might have cheated on Han Solo and eventually developed sundowners syndrome. Those suggestions probably won’t pan out, but as of now we don’t know exactly what Leia will be doing in the movie.
Since the original trilogy ended in 1983, Fisher has been all over the stage and screen, often poking fun at herself or her iconic role. Among her many non-Star Wars films are The Burbs, When Harry Met Sally…, Scream 3, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and Fanboys. Fisher’s also an accomplished writer. Her semi-autobiographical novel Postcards From the Edge was turned into a movie starring Meryl Streep in 1990, and she wrote and performed in an acclaimed autobiographical one-woman stage show called Wishful Drinking which she later adapted into a book.
Mark Hamill‘s return to the franchise was also a no-brainer. Along with Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, he’s been the subject of rumors from the very beginning, and was recently seen in London as Episode VII begins shooting.
After Episode VI, Hamill did several live-action films and Broadway shows. He still appears onscreen from time to time, and has a lead role coming up in the fact-based crime drama Minkow. But these days, he’s better known for his illustrious voice work career. He’s voiced a lot of characters over the past few decades, earning particular acclaim for his work as the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series. More recently, he’s had roles in the animated series Turbo FAST, Adventure Time, and Dragons: Riders of Berk.
As with most of the original trilogy veterans announced today, word that Anthony Daniels would be reprising his role has been swirling for months. In October, he accidentally sort-of confirmed his involvement in Episode VII by pointing out that he’d be the only actor to be in all seven films.
In truth, Daniels has played C-3PO a lot more than seven times. He’s played the character in dozens of TV shows and video games, and most recently made a voice cameo as the neurotic gold robot in Warner Bros.’ The Lego Movie. But C-3PO isn’t all he can do. He recently provided narration for the web series Dirigible Days.
Peter Mayhew played Chewbacca in Episodes IV-VI (as well as in a small, almost cameo role in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith), serving as Han Solo’s co-pilot on the Millennium Falcon. The character is aligned with Solo and is likely going to be at his side in the next chapters. In the book The Hutt Gambit, we learned that Chewbacca had a life debt to Han Solo because Solo, then an officer in the Imperial Navy, saved the Wookiee from slavery. While this Extended Universe backstory has become part of the character’s legend, it is still extended universe material, which means it might not appear in the movies.
In recent years, the actor has had some serious health issues, which are the topic of a Kickstarter documentary called Standing in the Stars: The Peter Mayhew Story. While he is improving, some might speculate on how mobile Mayhew could be in these new films. Maybe Chewbacca will be old and bedridden in the next chapter? Very unlikely if they go with Ford’s plans for Solo’s character. Abrams could easily employ stunt doubles for any sequence which involves a lot of movement. Wikipedia has a fun cautionary tale about the result of that on Empire Strikes Back:
When cast in the role, he studied the movement of large animals at the zoo to come up with an authentic sense of movement for Chewbacca. When Mayhew grew ill in the shooting of The Empire Strikes Back, a similarly tall stand in was used, but the actor could not match Mayhew’s studied movement style and the scenes had to be re-shot upon Mayhew’s recovery.
Kenny Baker played R2-D2 in all six of the Star Wars movies thus far. The British actor was inside of R2-D2 for all of the films. He was originally going to play Wicket, but when he fell ill the role was awarded to Warwick Davis. Baker also played an additional role in Return of the Jedi: Paploo, the Ewok who steals an Imperial speeder bike. We have no idea what role this famous astromech droid will play in the new film, but George Lucas has said since the beginning that R2-D2 and C-3PO would be the only characters at the center of the action for all three Star Wars trilogies. While JJ Abrams is rumored to be taking his own path and not following George Lucas’ original treatment, its a safe bet that the droids will be central in the next installments.
And, as the voice of two of the primary characters mentioned above, there’s always room for mention of the voice of Star Wars,
Ben Burt was previously announced as returning as a Star Wars crew member. Star Wars fans should recognize the name, as he worked with George Lucas on the sounds for all of the Star Wars films and the Indiana Jones adventures. He created the voices of R2-D2 and Chewbacca, and will continue to perform those character’s voices in the new films. Burt also helped Spielberg design the voice of E.T. and was the voice of WALL-E and M-O in Pixar’s WALL-E. He has a long history with Kathleen Kennedy, George Lucas and also JJ Abrams, having previously collaborated with JJ on Star Trek, Super 8 and Star Trek Into Darkness.