Ken Watanabe Replaces Benedict Wong In Gareth Edwards' True Love

Ken Watanabe is stepping in to replace Benedict Wong in "True Love," director Gareth Edwards' long-gestating follow-up to "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." Deadline reports that Wong, who holds commitments to Marvel Studios among other things, has departed "True Love" due to scheduling conflicts. Watanabe will now fill the role in the upcoming New Regency film, which also stars John David Washington, Gemma Chan, Allison Janney, and Sturgill Simpson.

We first heard about "True Love" around this time two years ago when it was still an untitled project that was scheduled to begin shooting in the summer of 2020. It was early February and the full force of COVID-19 had yet to be felt in the U.S., so it seems like this is one of the many projects that had its production timeline thrown off by the pandemic. 

Plot details for "True Love" are still under wraps. All we know is that it's "an original sci-fi story set in the near future." There's no word on the nature of Watanabe's role, though this won't be the first time he has collaborated with Edwards. The actor was also there in 2014 to teach the world the correct pronunciation of the monster Gojira's name in "Godzilla." As the Project Monarch scientist, Dr. Ishirō Serizawa, he helped Edwards and Legendary launch the MonsterVerse before delivering the creature a nuke biscuit underwater in "Godzilla: King of the Monsters."

Welcome Back, Gareth Edwards

It's been over half a decade now since "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," which reportedly had a troubled production and saw Edwards lose control of the film to co-writer Tony Gilroy during reshoots. It was Edwards' last film to date, so "True Love" will mark a return to the big screen for him, his fourth movie overall after "Monsters," "Godzilla," and "Rogue One."

The "Star Wars" machine has chewed up and spit out a number of filmmakers in recent years, but publicly, at least, Edwards was able to survive the experience a little more gracefully than someone like Josh Trank, for example. He even went on to cameo as a Resistance fighter on the planet Crait in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi."

As we reported before, Edwards has been developing several projects for his follow-up to "Rogue One," "but wanted to choose carefully what his next project would be before committing." Anyone who's a fan of his earlier work is sure to be paying attention as he leaves the franchise sandbox and returns to his "Monsters" roots with an original sci-fi story.

New Regency is the production company behind Robert Eggers' "The Northman," and it is also developing David O. Russell's star-studded next film, the cast of which also includes Washington along with Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldana, Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Rock, Mike Myers, Robert De Niro, Michael Shannon, Timothy Olyphant, Taylor Swift, Andrea Riseborough, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Alessandro Nivola.

We'll keep you updated on "True Love" and the Edwards-Watanabe reunion as more details roll in.