Star Wars Bits: Open Casting Calls Begin, Plus: Neil Gaiman, George Lucas, 20th Century Fox

Star Wars Episode VII may have a release date now, but it still needs some stars and maybe some additional shooting locations. After the jump:

  • Silicon Valley wants George Lucas to have his museum
  • Don't look for the 20th Century Fox fanfare in Episode VII
  • California is annoyed that Episode VII is shooting in London
  • ... while the New Mexico rumors spring up once again
  • Neil Gaiman asks J.J. Abrams about casting British actors
  • ... as aspiring Jedi around the globe line up for auditions
  • Around 30 tech industry hotshots, including Yahoo! president Marissa Mayer, YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley, and Twitter co-creator Jack Dorsey have signed a petition urging the Presidio Trust to let Lucas open his cultural center. The planned museum is "a beacon that says to the world that San Francisco is, and will remain, this country's capital of innovation," argues the letter.

    Lucas had long planned to construct The George Lucas Cultural Arts Museum on the site, and was furious to learn this fall that his proposal was one of three being considered by the board. "They hate us," he complained at the time, threatening to move the center to Chicago. [Mashable]

    Up until now, each Star Wars cinematic experience has opened exactly the same way: with that classic Fox fanfare. But that tradition won't continue into Episode VII, which is being distributed by Disney. We assumed as much from the get-go, because duh, but now there's official confirmation.

    Interestingly, Star Wars almost didn't have the fanfare to begin with. Fox had mostly stopped using that intro by the time the first movie opened, but George Lucas insisted that his film include it. John Williams took it one step further by working with it. Knowing that his theme would immediately follow those famous notes, he composed his score to complement it. [TheWrap]

    The UK's Pinewood Studios are thrilled to welcome Episode VII next year, but not everyone is so happy with the movie's choice of set. California Film Commission chief Amy Lemisch is miffed that her state lost the shoot, and she blames it on their stingy tax credit program. "I have a giant list of major projects that California has lost because we can't compete on incentives and Star Wars is at the top," she said. [Variety]

    Meanwhile, rumors that Star Wars Episode VII could film in New Mexico (as well as, not instead of, London) have sprung back to life. A source claims that Disney has signed a three-year deal to shoot the film there, and will open a production office there early next year so Star Wars.

    This update has not been confirmed by Disney, and directly contradicts an earlier report that contrary to online chatter, New Mexico was "never on the list" of shooting locations to begin with. But if I were a New Mexican, I'd keep an eye out just in case. [Star Wars Underworld via Jedi News]

    There have been Episode VII casting rumors surrounding seemingly every actor in Hollywood over the past few months, including some very prominent British ones. However, J.J. Abrams isn't ready to get too specific yet.

    Asked by Neil Gaiman during an interview whether there'd be "British casting" in Star Wars, Abrams responded, "It wouldn't be Star Wars if there weren't some fantastic actors who happen to be British, but I think we're doing our job of looking everywhere for the best possible actors for the role."

    And Abrams does mean everywhere . The studio is currently hosting open casting calls around the world, including Glasgow, Dublin, Chicago, Austin, and Nashville, for two major roles. Here's the description for "Rachel":

    Seeking: Young woman to play 17-18 Years old. Must be beautiful, smart and athletic. Open to all ethnicities (including bi- and multi-racial).

    Was quite young when she lost her parents. With no other family, she was forced to maker her way alone in a tough, dangerous town. Now 17 she has become street smart and strong. She is able to take care of herself using humor and guts to get by.

    Always a survivor, never a victim, she remains hopeful that she can move away from this harsh existence to a better life. She is always thinking of what she can do to move ahead.

    And here's the one for "Thomas":

    Seeking: Young man to play 19-23 years old. Must be handsome, smart and athletic. Must be over 18.

    Has grown up without a father's influence. Without the model of being a man, he doesn't have the strongest sense of himself. Despite this, he is smart, capable and shows courage when it is needed. He can appreciate the absurdities in life and understands you can't take life too seriously.

    If you fit either of those descriptions but don't live near any of those cities, don't despair. Online applications are also being accepted, so interested parties can just send in a video audition. Go to (for Americans) or @UKopencall (for Brits) for more information. To see what you're in for, check out TheForce's roundup of articles about the first audition day in Bristol. [via BBC Newsnight, JoBlo]