Lots of casting rumors have been flying about for the upcoming Star Wars sequel trilogy these last several months. Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael B. Jordan, Jack O’Connell, Alex Pettyfer, Saoirse Ronan and most recently Jesse Plemons have all been linked to being under possible consideration for roles in the films. This weekend, the Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog has added three more contenders to the list – Michael Fassbender, Hugo Weaving and Girls star Adam Driver.
Fassbender and Weaving are great choices with plenty of fan cred and fans will definitely be excited that Heat Vision’s sources are telling them that Weaving met for the role of an Imperial commander.
But what is more important in their reportage is the explanation as to why we are still hearing stories about possible casting and not actual formal announcements of actors winning roles. According to their sources, the casting process has been going on so long because of revisions that the screenplay had been going through. Specifically, director J J Abrams and screenwriter Michael Arndt could not agree on which characters would be featured more in the upcoming film.
Reportedly, Arndt, who developed the outline for the new trilogy with Star Wars creator George Lucas, wanted to bring back the classic Star Wars characters of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) in supporting roles, with their children taking center stage in the action. Abrams, however, was of the mind that the first film should feature Luke, Han and Leia front and center with their children in supporting roles before taking over the leads in the following two films.
When Abrams and Arndt could not reach an agreement, Arndt walked which lead to the reports from last October that Arndt had left the project and Abrams was working on revising the screenplay with writer Lawrence Kasdan. Heat Vision reports that the rewrite has seen a number of characters from the first draft disappearing and being replaced by brand new one or being altered from their original conception. As an example, Heat Vision points to the fact that Mud‘s young breakout star Tye Sheridan had met with Abrams about a role, which has since disappeared from the script. They also cite a character that had originally been envisioned as a twenty-year old male now being seen as twice that age.
If you’ve ever had occasion to read any of George Lucas’s early drafts for the very first Star Wars film, you know that the story underwent a number of permutations until he hit upon the right combination that we know today. So script overhauls are nothing new to the franchise, and I suspect that Arndt’s drafts will make interesting reading, especially after we finally get Abrams’ final version to compare them with.
The upshot of this is that while Abrams is still casting a wide net for his casting process as the script is being whipped into shape, some of the earlier names reported as having met with the director may have done so for parts that no longer exist in the same shape that Abrams discussed with them.
This state of affairs is why we don’t have any concrete idea as to what new characters we will be seeing in Episode VII, though that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill. The latest thing that is being reported, and was tacked onto the end of the Heat Vision story, is this morsel of potential new character/casting information –
The latest bit to surface this week is that Abrams and Lucasfilm are now searching for a 20-something female actress who is either of mixed race or black. The rumor is that Obi-Wan Kenobi had a daughter or granddaughter.
While I understand that ultimately Star Wars is a saga about the Skywalker family and that there is a generational aspect to the story, I don’t think that I like the idea that Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi would have a secret f=child/grandchild that no one knew anything about before this. In fact, the prequel trilogy pretty much went out of its way to hammer home the idea that Jedis can’t have relationships or families as they would interfere with their duties. It is one of the rules that Anakin breaks that ultimately leads to his fall to the Dark Side of the Force. So let’s hope that this one is at least false.