The Star Wars train is coming into the station, whether you want it to or not. I personally couldn’t care less, as the entire brand has been in shambles for years. There’s no where to go but up at this point. I’ll see the movie regardless, so the most frustrating part of this process has been the slow trickle of information from the Disney-Lucasfilm mega corporation. All of the secrecy involved in the pre-production phase seems unnecessary, but a crack in the armor of the leviathan has finally been exposed, in the form of a confirmed cast for the yet-un-subtitled Episode VII.
I am playing right into the Hollywood hype machine, but I don’t care for two reasons: 1) I am a busy man and it is a lot easier to write about a press release than a movie or TV show or something, and 2) this is a really great cast and I wanna talk about it. StarWars.com released the cast along with a picture of everyone reading the script. And boy, does it look like a whole lot of fun.
Let’s get the boring part out of the way: the old guard is back; Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), and Kenny Baker (R2-D2) will all return for the new slate of films. Daniels and Baker comported themselves well in the prequels, so there’s not much concern on that front, but the rest of the crew… They’re just so- old. I have a tough time getting interested in watching a septuagenarian Han Solo whose disaffectedness has devolved into regular old crotchetiness. Maybe they will all surprise me, but for now I am way more interested in the new actors.
Let’s start with Daisy Ridley, the only female in the new group, and the most mysterious member of this cast. How mysterious? The only real details listed on IMDb tell us that she is 5′ 7″, and will be a cast member in Star Wars: Episode VII. Her acting reel was available just after the press release went out, but has since been made private. She is a complete unknown entity to me, but the producers must have seen something in her to place such a large burden on her shoulders.
Moving in order from least interesting to most interesting (which is a subtle distinction in this case), our next actor is Domhnall Gleeson, son of Brendan. Gleeson is probably best known for playing a Weasley in a few Harry Potter films, but one of his more recent turns as the lead in About Time is where he shines the most. He is utterly charming in a film that is empty at times; his presence is what fills it.
Next on the list is Andy Serkis, most famous for providing motion capture for CGI creations, with impeccable emotion. So, most likely Serkis will be playing himself (jokes!). I guess it is important to note that at this point that despite announcing the cast, there has been no indication of what role any of these actors will be playing. So really, this entire review is pointless!
Anyway, next up on my Star Wars power rankings is John Boyega, presumably one of the film’s leads, as he is listed first in the press release. Boyega was awesome in Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block back in 2011, a film about aliens invading a British tenement building. Boyega has the toughness necessary to be a believable action hero. It is also encouraging that Boyega happens to be black (although he is the only actor of color in the production thusfar). If he truly is the lead, that will be a nice change of pace.
Let’s talk Driver. Adam Driver, that is. Girls is not really my cup of tea, but I cannot deny that Driver is an interesting presence on the show. His recent performances in Frances Ha and Inside Llewyn Davis were brief, but showed a lot of promise. Driver is rumored to be the film’s villain, which could be a really interesting choice depending on what kind of Driver we get.
Filling the old man role (apart from Hamill, Ford, et. al) is Max von Sydow, the legendary actor who has seemingly been preparing for the part of wizened Jedi master for the last 150 years. His acting experience will be greatly appreciated amidst a sea of relatively young actors. Let’s just hope he doesn’t dislike Star Wars as much as Obi-Wan actor Alex Guinness did.
The final cast member – and the one I am most excited about – is Oscar Issac. Isaac broke out in a big way in last year’s Inside Llewyn Davis (alongside Driver). The latest Coen Brothers movie was a character study following a misanthropic cad whose attitude toward life often sabotages all of the hard work he does. Issac was outstanding as Llewyn, and his lack of nomination come Oscar time was really disappointing. Who knows, maybe he’ll pick one up for Star Wars: Episode VII. Probably not.
So there’s our cast. It is looking pretty great. For the first time since Disney announced the Lucasfilm purchase, I am actually excited about this project. A little more diversity would have been great, but surely this group does not represent the entire cast of the future blockbuster; perhaps Disney will make a few more inspired moves. Sure, I was going to see Star Wars: Episode VII no matter what, but now I think it might actually be good. Hopefully J. J. Abrams doesn’t prove me wrong.