[ABOVE VIDEO CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILER FOR THE FORCE AWAKENS]
This morning it was officially announced that Star Wars Episode VIII has begun production. Along with a very short teaser video that starts right where J.J. Abrams left off in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, the cast has also been confirmed for the upcoming sequel. With three new actors joining the galaxy far, far away, with no hints as to who they might play, speculation has already begun. [Minor spoiler discussion ahead]
First we have Academy Award winner Benecio Del Toro. Most famous for his roles in Traffic, Snatch, The Usual Suspects, and most recently Sicario, Mr. Del Toro has been rumored to be a new villain in Episode VIII. What role will he play in Supreme Leader Snoke’s plan? Maybe he has nothing to do with Snoke and Ren. Perhaps he could have ulterior motives from The First Order? I think it would be cool if he played a bounty hunter.
Next up we have Laura Dern. Best known for playing Dr. Ellie Sattler in Jurassic Park and the mom in The Fault in Our Stars, 99 Homes, and 2014’s Wild, there have been no clues or rumors as to who she might be in Episode VIII. My guess, she’ll be Rey’s mother. It only makes sense since she seems to be typecast as a motherly figure.
And finally, newcomer Kelly Marie Tran is going to be thrust into the Star Wars universe much like John Boyega and Daisy Ridley. Tran can be seen in a handful of CollegeHumor sketches and the webseries Ladies Like Us. She has a comedic background, which may or may not prove to be a factor in why she was cast. For all we know she could be playing a Jawa.
The most interesting thing to note about this announcement is within the teaser video. [SPOILER FOR THE FORCE AWAKENS] We find ourselves atop the plateau where Rey discovers Luke, extending her arm to present his lightsaber. [/END SPOILER FOR THE FORCE AWAKENS] Then we cut to director Rian Johnson (Looper; The Brothers Bloom) celebrating the first day of production. Why is this fascinating? It’s because we’ve never had a Star Wars sequel begin immediately after the events of the prior film. Whether Episode VIII will in fact do so remains to be unseen until the final product, of course, but it would be a rather new experience for fans. On the other hand, they could just be shooting a few minutes of footage from this moment and use it as a flashback or work it into the first moments of the film and then jump ahead in time. Who knows?
Returning for the sequel, we will see Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa, Adam Driver as Ben Solo aka Kylo Ren, Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata, Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma, and Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke.
Here’s the official news release regarding the casting information:
Rey took her first steps into a larger world in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and will continue her epic journey with Finn, Poe, and Luke Skywalker in the next chapter of the continuing Star Wars saga, Star Wars: Episode VIII, which began principal photography at Pinewood Studios in London on February 15, 2016.
Star Wars: Episode VIII, which is written and directed by Rian Johnson and continues the storylines introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, welcomes back cast members Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, and Andy Serkis. New cast members will include Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro, Academy Award nominee Laura Dern, and talented newcomer Kelly Marie Tran.
Star Wars: Episode VIII is produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Jason McGatlin, and Tom Karnowski. Joining the production crew will be some of the industry’s top talent, including Steve Yedlin (Director of Photography), Bob Ducsay (Editor), Rick Heinrichs (Production Designer), Peter Swords King (Hair and Make-Up Designer), and Mary Vernieu (US Casting Director). They will be joining returning crew members Pippa Anderson (Co-Producer, VP Post Production), Neal Scanlan (Creature & Droid FX Creative Supervisor), Michael Kaplan (Costume Designer), Jamie Wilkinson (Prop Master), Chris Corbould (SFX Supervisor), Rob Inch (Stunt Coordinator), Ben Morris (VFX Supervisor), and Nina Gold (UK Casting Director).
Directed by Rian Johnson, Star Wars Episode VIII is set to release now on December 17, 2017.