STAR WARS EPISODE 7 Roundup: Two Added To Cast, Production Takes Two Week Break, Kevin Smith Stops By Set


It has been a busy weekend in terms of Star Wars news, so let’s dive right in.

First up, two new names have been added to the film’s cast – Crystal Clarke and Pip Andersen. I’ll quote the Lucasfilm press release for the particulars of both their careers, but I do find it interesting that Andersen is noted as a “skilled practitioner of parkour.” Given that Abrams is eschewing the use of CGI in favor of practical sets and characters wherever possible, I have to wonder of Andersen’s unnamed character is a Jedi and the production will be making use of those skills to show off some Jedi skills.

At the end of last year Lucasfilm and Disney invited all young aspiring actors to attend an open casting call for roles in J.J Abrams’ Star Wars Episode VII. The casting calls spanned 11 cities across the US and UK and over 37,000 hopefuls attended, with a further 30,000 submitting applications online.

Having hunted high and low for young and undiscovered talent, the filmmakers are delighted to announce that two actors from the open call call have been cast.

Crystal Clarke is an American actress studying in Glasgow, UK, who has both stage and screen acting experience and is soon to be seen in her first feature, The Moon and the Sun (to be released in 2015). British actor Pip Andersen is a skilled practitioner of parkour, a discipline that involves propelling oneself through any given environment with incredible grace and agility. Pip recently demonstrated this remarkable skill in a Spider-Man ad for Sony.

“The Star Wars universe has always been about discovering and nurturing young talent and in casting Episode VII we wanted to remain absolutely faithful to this tradition. We are delighted that so many travelled to see us at the open casting calls and that we have been able to make Crystal and Pip a part of the film,” said producer and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.

While the announcement doesn’t mention anything about their characters, perhaps we can glean a clue or two from the sides that were circulating last year during the casting search.

RACHEL: Young woman to play 17-18 Years old. Must be beautiful, smart and athletic. Open to all ethnicities (including bi- and multi-racial).

Was quite young when she lost her parents. With no other family, she was forced to maker her way alone in a tough, dangerous town. Now 17 she has become street smart and strong. She is able to take care of herself using humor and guts to get by.

Always a survivor, never a victim, she remains hopeful that she can move away from this harsh existence to a better life. She is always thinking of what she can do to move ahead.

THOMAS: Young man to play 19-23 years old. Must be handsome, smart and athletic. Must be over 18.

Has grown up without a father’s influence. Without the model of being a man, he doesn’t have the strongest sense of himself. Despite this, he is smart, capable and shows courage when it is needed. He can appreciate the absurdities in life and understands you can’t take life too seriously.

Buried in the casting announcement from Lucasfilm is word that star Harrison Ford’s recent on-set accident which resulted in a broken leg has led the production to schedule a two-week hiatus from shooting in August. Generally when an actor becomes unavailable for a period of time, the shooting scheduled is rearranged to shoot any material that doesn’t require there presence. Given that director director J J Abrams has presumably already done that schedule adjustment, the hiatus suggests that everything not dealing with Ford will be shot by August. Depending on when principal photography is scheduled to end, it looks as if the stories that Ford’s Han Solo will be playing a big part in the film’s storyline are being confirmed here.

Lucasfilm also stresses that the production is on schedule to make its announced December 18, 2015 release, probably in response to various rumors that Abrams has been pressuring the company to push back that date.

While Ford won’t be on set for a while, one person who has managed to get into Pinewood Studios to witness some filming was Kevin Smith. If there’s a better ambassador for the films right now, I can’t think of who it could be. Just listen to him talking about his recent set visit to the production while talking about filmmaking and his career to an audience in Germany this past week. Here’s just a short snippet of what he had to say. His full comment on his trip starts at around the 0:35 minute mark in the video below.

What I saw, I absolutely loved. It was tactile — it was real. It wasn’t a series of fucking green screens and blue screens in which later a bunch of digital characters would be added. IT was there, it was happening. I saw old friends who I haven’t seen since my childhood, who aren’t really friends, but I love them more than some of my fucking relatives. I saw uniforms, I saw artillery I haven’t seen since I was a kid. I saw them shooting an actual sequence in a set that was real. I walked across the set, there were explosions. And it looked like a shot right out of a Star Wars movie.

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About Rich Drees 7059 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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