Last night, one of the most closely guarded secrets in Hollywood was finally revealed, and we have our cast for the new ‘Star Wars’ movie. It’s a brilliantly mixed group of actors, from arthouse veterans to respected up-and-comers, from the beloved cast of the original movie to a 22-year-old from Peckham. But it left us with a few nagging questions…
Can the original cast still cut it?
It’s no surprise to see that Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill are back – over the past few days they’ve both been spotted in London, where the film will start shooting in May. The return of Carrie Fisher was a foregone conclusion, too, as were the inclusion of supporting players Kenny Baker (R2D2), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca). But can these old-timers hold their own with a fresh young cast? Mayhew has had back problems, Ford is notoriously grumpy, and Fisher has had… well, let’s just say she’s had a few issues. Are they up to all the running, swinging and blaster-fire these movies demand?
Who are these newbies?
We’ve all had time to get to know ‘Girls’ star Adam Driver: rumours have been swirling for weeks that he would be playing a Sith baddie, and thus it has proved. But the rest is all new information: ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ lead Oscar Isaac, Ingmar Bergman favourite Max Von Sydow (no stranger to intergalactic matters – he was Ming the Merciless in the campy ‘Flash Gordon’), Irish heartthrob Domnhall Gleeson, motion-capture expert and Gollum man Andy Serkis and, perhaps most thrillingly of all, Londoner John Boyega, so wonderful in Brixton-set alien invasion flick ‘Attack the Block’. The only serious unknown quantity is local girl Daisy Ridley (she was in ‘Casualty’ once, and popped up in ‘Toast of London’, but that’s about all we know).
Which characters are they playing?
We still have no idea what the plot of the movie is going to be (and many of us are keen to keep it that way), so there’s no way to know who the new gang are playing. The mixed racial makeup of the newcomers (Boyega is black, Isaac is Guatemalan) means early assumptions that the central characters would be the children of Ford and Fisher must be wrong. But from last year’s casting announcement, we can make a few guesses: Daisy Ridley might be the offspring of Han, Leia or Luke, and Von Sydow must surely be the veteran General figure casting agents were seeking (unless that role hasn’t been announced yet – we still reckon Gary Oldman might be in with a shot). Serkis will surely be playing a variety of crazy alien lifeforms, as is his habit.
How well will they slot into the Star Wars universe?
This week on the Time Out website we counted down the 50 Best Star Wars Characters (yes, there’s 50!), so we like to think we know a thing or two about what the new cast will be facing. One of the problems with George Lucas’s prequel trilogy was the absence of properly exciting new heroes and villains (aside from a small handful, like Darth Maul), so we’re hoping director JJ Abrams and his co-writer Lawrence Kasdan have gone out of their way to make the new characters as diverse and exciting as possible (and no Jar Jar Binks-style kiddie fodder, please!). We reckon Boyega would look sharp with a pair of tentacles sprouting from his head, and Von Sydow would definitely suit some kind of robotic exoskeleton.
How British is this new movie going to be?
There’s always been a strong Brit element in the ‘Star Wars’ series, and this cast hammers that home: Boyega, Ridley and Serkis are all homegrown (as are Baker, Daniels and Mayhew), while Gleeson is from just over the water. In this week’s Time Out, we jokingly suggested that the producers could save on sets by shooting the films in real London locations – Canary Wharf would make a great Death Star, while Chelsea really is just like Cloud City – and with this cast we reckon that plan would work beautifully. Oi, slags, where’d we park the Falcon?