Posted on Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 by Germain Lussier
UPDATE: 45 minutes after posting this, the cast was announced. Zac Efron is not in the film. But it was a fun discussion to be had. Original article follows.
We don’t know if Zac Efron is in J.J. Abrams‘ Star Wars Episode VII. He might be, or he may not be. What we do know is, ever since his name was mentioned in connection with the project in July of last year, a growing mountain of evidence suggests he does have a role in the film, even as another pile of evidence suggests he does not.
Since that first rumor, Efron has done multiple interviews where he’s acted highly suspect. We’ve heard tips from unconfirmed sources and even analyzed his publicity schedule. Then again, there are few huge red flags to the contrary. It’s come to a point where, mere days before Abrams reveals his cast, a very reasonable case can be made for Efron’s involvement with the film but it’s not a certainty.
Below, I present the facts and let you judge for yourself.
On July 24, 2013 Latino Review reported Efron had met J.J. Abrams about project. At the time, he and Ryan Gosling were the names mentioned, potentially for Luke Skywalker or Han Solo’s kid.
Pro: Latino Review has good sources and this fact was later confirmed. He did meet.
Con: July 2013 is when Michael Arndt was reportedly removed from the project. J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan took over and totally rewrote the movie. If Efron was meeting at that time, there’s a chance the role doesn’t exist anymore.
Fast forward a few months and Efron is promoting That Awkward Moment, a film he also produced. Speaking to MTV News, he acknowledged that yes, he did take a meeting on the film, a confirmation of the previous rumor. You can watch that interview at this link.
Pro: We now knew Efron did, in fact, meet about Star Wars. (As did many other actors.)
Con: At this point, February 2014, very few people dared even acknowledge a connection to the film. And those who did likely did it because they knew they were out of the running.
At South by Southwest in March 2014 to promote Neighbors, Efron spoke to MTV again. This time however, his co-star Seth Rogen was asked if he also auditioned for Star Wars along with Efron. It became a very funny little thing. If you watch the video though, there’s a noticeably uncomfortable look on Efron’s face the second the film is mentioned, until Rogen cracks him up.
Pro: Efton doesn’t comment on the question and exhibits uncomfortable body language.
Con: Efron doesn’t comment on the question and uncomfortable body language means nothing. Maybe he was gassy.
Around this time, both Peter Sciretta and I heard from different, unconfirmed sources that Efron had signed some kind of major multi-picture deal.
Pro: Two people hearing similar information is always a good thing.
Con: Without any real evidence from these sources or additional confirmation, we couldn’t run this story. No other credible outlets did, either.
On Monday, a clip circulated of a new interview Efron did for Neighbors. He’s asked if Star Wars is next for him and again he deflects the question, saying he doesn’t like to speak about things until they’re finalized. He then adds something vague about “irons in the fire.” Here’s that interview.
Pro: That interview was posted this weekend. From the U.K., where J.J. Abrams is doing a Star Wars Episode VII table read this week and where Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher are currently located. Efron also looks down when answering about Star Wars, a clear signal he could be lying.
Con: Many sites are interpreting that phrase in regards to Star Wars specifically but, in context, it can also be interpreted as Efron saying he has many different projects possibly coming next, not necessarily including Star Wars.
The highly respected Mike Fleming of Deadline reports J.J. Abrams is hosting a Star Wars Episode VII table read on Tuesday in London.
Pro: Zac Efron was just in London!
Con: Monday night, or Tuesday morning London time, Efron was about 5000 miles away from London in Los Angeles attending the premiere of Neighbors. (Here’s a Vine commemorating the occasion.) While there’s a chance he could’ve flown back to London in the morning, the timing would be very close. Probably too close. Would Abrams let him miss a table read? Unlikely. Could Fleming be wrong? Unlikely.
Advantage: Con. (Though, we do live in 2014 and Skype is a possibility.)
A few weeks ago, Universal Pictures asked me if I’d like to do interviews for Neighbors. I’ve seen the film, quite enjoyed it and said yes. I asked for Efron and Rogen. Monday, I was told I got an interview with Rogen but not Efron.
Con: When this happens, 95% of the time it’s because either the actor’s publicist thinks their client will hit a demo by talking to another site, the schedule is too busy or simply feels the match just isn’t right. It’s never personal, that’s their job, and that’s almost assuredly why I didn’t get an interview with Efron. Which is completely cool. Your humble writer excluded, /Film readers aren’t generally the type to line up for a Zac Efron movie. It also means Efron will 100% be in New York this weekend.
Pro: But there’s always that other five percent. The percentage where the publicist is thinking a few levels deeper. Maybe they don’t want their client to talk to a specific website because a specific website covers a specific secret project a lot. And, if the client talks to this website, he might be asked about something he doesn’t want to talk about. Now is this what happened with Zac Efron and /Film? Honestly, I don’t think so. But it’s happened in the past with actors who have been cast in major blockbusters.
While Efron undoubtedly has a bunch of “irons in the fire,” such as The Associate, Fire or Snabba Cash, he hasn’t committed to anything. After a long and consistent string of film roles over the past five years, he’s seemingly got a break in his schedule. It could be a well-deserved vacation or it could be what happened with other actors who’ve been rumored for Star Wars Episode VII.
Con: Over the past few weeks, multiple actors who were mentioned as being up for roles and had openings in their schedules all began committing to other projects. Benedict Cumberbatch, Lupita Nyong’o, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jesse Plemons are just a few examples of actors who now are committed to other roles, meaning they probably won’t be in Star Wars.
Pro: Efron isn’t on that list.
That’s five Con and three Pros. What does that tell us? There’s a very good chance Zac Efron is in Star Wars Episode VII. But there’s a slightly better chance he’s not.
We’ll find out for sure very soon and that’s a good thing. This level of insane scrutiny has totally warped our ability to be fans of the stories. I think Zac Efron is a fantastic actor, and as a fan of his and Star Wars, I’d love to see him in the movie. I just don’t want to worry about when or if he’s taking a flight to London. This type of speculation was fun for a while but it’s time to move on. I want to start thinking about Skywalkers, Solos, Siths and Jedi. What about you?