The Star Wars: Episode VII cast has finally landed on Earth after navigating more than a year of intergalactic rumor belts. The original cast is intact, newbies are on board, and a few of the reports even proved not to be total space garbage. The news came with a shiny black-and-white photo of a table read and a message from director J.J. Abrams: “It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again. We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud.” Who’s “everyone,” though? Let’s break it down.
Harrison Ford: Han Solo, presently 71 years old. Returning despite not giving a shit whether Greedo shot first. Just last night, Deadline heard his role is “gigantic”; today we’re looking at photographic evidence of him enjoying one of two coveted seats beside Abrams.
Carrie Fisher: Princess Leia, now 57. Presumably part of a tumultuous, wry-remark-laden marriage with Han Solo. Potential mother to young Jedi Padawan(s).
Mark Hamill: Not-So-Young Skywalker, 62 as of this writing. First original Star Wars actor to publicly lobby for a full-on reunion in the new films, telling Entertainment Tonight in early 2013, “I want to make sure that everybody’s on board here, rather than just one.”
Oscar Isaac: Musically gifted star of Inside Llewyn Davis. Credits include Drive, Robin Hood, The Bourne Legacy. Rumored to have “a major role”; no further info available. Request: Someone superimpose a lightsaber into Llewyn’s guitar scenes. Anything to kill time between now and December 18, 2015.
Daisy Ridley: Almost entirely unknown. “Daisy Ridley actress” gets six hits on Google. Brand-new Twitter account. Deadline observes that “she’s the only new face keeping this from becoming a total sausage party.” Appearances on England’s Mr Selfridge and Silent Witness. Had a barely viewed YouTube show reel that went dark in the time it took to write this post. Clip featured mention of John Williams’s Star Wars score, plus Ridley piloting a go-kart; possible sign of impending X-wing pilot license. Additional interesting thought, based on table read photo:
Adam Driver: Also in Inside Llewyn Davis. 30 years old, busy guy — Lincoln, Frances Ha, almost every episode of HBO’s Girls. Tapped for Star Wars back in February, reportedly for a Darth Vader–ish villain role.
John Boyega: 22-year-old Brit; stole Joe Cornish’s 2011 indie sci-fi flick Attack the Block at age 18. Name started floating around in March, when reports hit that Disney was looking for “someone of a different ethnicity from the previous Caucasian leads.” Will appear in 24: Live Another Day.
Domhnall Gleeson: Played Bill Weasley in Harry Potter; knows a thing or two about franchises. Starred in Black Mirror’s haunting “Be Right Back” episode, acted in Anna Karenina and True Grit, did 2013’s Rachel McAdams time-travel romance About Time.
Max von Sydow: 85-year-old Swede. Cut teeth in 1957’s The Seventh Seal and 10 subsequent Ingmar Bergman projects. Played Jesus Christ in The Greatest Story Ever Told, Bond villain Blofeld in Never Say Never Again, and Father Merrin in The Exorcist. Recent appearances include Shutter Island, Robin Hood, and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, for which he earned his second Oscar nom. Role of ancient-looking gentleman has typically been reserved for Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars universe, so maybe he’s a crusty Sith Lord who’s been lying in wait. Distant relative of Palpatine’s or something. Darth Cousin.
Andy Serkis: Motion-capture wizard who broke through as Gollum in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. Went on to do mo-cap for King Kong and the new Planet of the Apes flicks; subsequently scored a gig as second unit director on The Hobbit trilogy. No idea if he’ll act as a real-life presence or a CGI beastie, but voting Watto’s grandson if the latter.
Anthony Daniels: Fact, via Internet Movie Database: As C-3PO, the 68-year-old Brit has the first line in the first Star Wars (A New Hope) and the last line in the last Star Wars (Revenge of the Sith). One of two actors to appear in all Star Wars movies, along with …
Kenny Baker: R2-D2. Also English. 3-foot-8, 79 years old. Actually hangs out inside the R2-D2 structure. Probably gets hot in there.
Peter Mayhew: Chewbacca. About to turn 70. Return was announced a couple weeks ago. Very exciting. Classic Han/Chewie interplay imminent.
And who’s missing (for now, forever, who knows): Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench, Lupita Nyong’o, Saoirse Ronan, Jesse Plemons, Ed Speleers, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Leonardo DiCaprio, Zac Efron, Ryan Gosling, former Emperor Ian McDiarmid, Ewan McGregor, Alex Pettyfer, Michael B. Jordan, David Oyelowo, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Taissa Farmiga. Sorry, guys.