The floodgate finally opened this morning as J.J. Abrams popped the top of his mystery box and officially unveiled his cast for Star Wars: Episode VII. Some of the names were familiar, as they’d been making the rumored shortlist rounds for months, while some came entirely out of the blue. Save for the fact that it would have been nice to have one or two more females in the bunch, there really aren’t many complaints to be made about this lineup. Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy have put together a rather exciting and eclectic group of actors, and we’re all eager to see them in action.
Since some of these names might still be a tad unfamiliar to you (and since this is Star Wars), we’ve put together a handy introduction to the confirmed actors that will be kicking off this new Star Wars trilogy once Episode VII hits theaters on December 18, 2015. Read on after the jump.
We’ll be addressing the new Star Wars actors in the order in which they appear on the official press release from Lucasfilm, which may or may not be an indication of the size of their roles. Hold on to your butts.
Where You’ve Seen Him Before: Attack the Block, Imperial Dreams
Why You Should Know Him: Boyega’s breakout role was as the lead in Joe Cornish’s excellent 2011 sci-fi film Attack the Block. The actor proved that he could not only carry a movie, but that he had the charisma and talent necessary to launch him to the next level. We kept wondering when Boyega’s next big break would come, and while it took three years, Star Wars is about the biggest break imaginable.
Who He Might Be Playing: At 22 years old, Boyega is quite possibly the youngest main cast member in Episode VII. His name is listed first on the official press release, which means he might just be our lead for this new trilogy of films. If so, that’s an incredibly exciting prospect. There have been indications that Episode VII would involve the offspring of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Leia, but it’s unclear how Boyega fits into the larger picture. There are definitely compelling signs pointing to him being a major piece of the puzzle, though.
Where You’ve Seen Her Before: Silent Witness, Mr. Selfridge
Why You Should Know Her: Well odds are you probably don’t. Ridley is the most “unknown” of this new Star Wars cast, but considering Abrams and Co. auditioned pretty much every young actor in the known universe for this film, it’s a safe bet she’s got some chops. The British actress has had supporting roles in UK TV series like Silent Witness, Youngsters, and Mr. Selfridge, and Star Wars is by far her biggest role to date.
Who She Might Be Playing: Again, since we’ve heard that Episode VII might include the offspring of the original trilogy characters, there’s certainly the possibility that one or more of these youngsters will be the daughter/son/grandchild of a character we already know. Ridley is listed second on the press release so she may be our female lead for this new trilogy, but let’s hope she’s given more than simply “love interest” in the story.
Where You’ve Seen Him Before: Girls, Inside Llewyn Davis, Lincoln
Why You Should Know Him: After breaking out in a big way on the HBO series Girls, Adam Driver has quickly become one of the most promising (and interesting) young talents working today. He’s a scene-stealer in basically everything he’s in, from indie fare like Frances Ha to character-filled ensembles like Inside Llewyn Davis. He has plenty of promising films already in the pipeline like the ensemble dramedy This Is Where I Leave You and the sci-fi pic Midnight Special, and he’s also attached to star in Martin Scorsese’s next film Silence—assuming the shooting schedule of Star Wars hasn’t forced him to drop out, that is.
Who He Might Be Playing: Beyond the original cast, Driver was basically the only actor who was solidly attached to Star Wars before today’s announcement. When Variety broke the news that Driver was nearing a deal to join the cast a few months ago, they reported that he was in line to play the villain of the film. That’s an excellent prospect given Driver’s unique performance style, and his role is said to perpetuate throughout this new trilogy so he’ll likely be sticking around for a while.
Click over to Page 2 for the rundown of the rest of the new Star Wars castmembers.
Continue Reading to Meet STAR WARS Cast Members Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and More
Where You’ve Seen Him Before: Inside Llewyn Davis, The Bourne Legacy, Sucker Punch
Why You Should Know Him: Though his stature has slowly been building over the past few years, Isaac is coming into Star Wars off of an absolutely stellar lead performance in last year’s Inside Llewyn Davis. It’s one of those go-for-broke performances that saw Isaac completely disappearing into the role, and it makes his addition to the Star Wars universe that much more enticing. Before we get to Star Wars, though, Isaac also has a couple more exciting roles already in the can with the dark thriller Mojave, the 1980s-set A Most Violent Year, and the provocative Ex Machina, in which he shares the screen with another fellow Star Wars newcomer.
Who He Might Be Playing: At 34, Isaac could feasibly play an older child of one of the original characters, or he could be playing someone else entirely. The safe bet is on the latter, and so the question then becomes Jedi or Sith? The actor’s a bit of a chameleon, and one could just as easily see him playing a Jedi trainer as a loyal Sith officer.
Where You’ve Seen Him Before: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Prestige
Why You Should Know Him: You may not recognize his face, but Serkis is a pioneer of the motion-capture industry. He’s the man behind Gollum from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit as well as Caesar from Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Captain Haddock from The Adventures of Tintin. Serkis has also done a fair amount of non-motion-capture work as well, filling supporting roles in The Prestige, King Kong, and 13 Going on 30. Whether he’s wearing a suit or not, though, Serkis is a brilliant performer.
Who He Might Be Playing: It’s hard to imagine hiring the greatest living mo-cap artist just to play a politician or a council member, so the safe bet is on Serkis playing a motion-capture role in Episode VII. The Star Wars universe is filled with creatures, and given the advances in technology since The Prequels, it’s hard to see Abrams foregoing the opportunity to bring a new creature to life using mo-cap technology. Enter: Andy Serkis.
Where You’ve Seen Him Before: About Time, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 & 2
Why You Should Know Him: Gleeson is probably recognizable to most as Bill Weasley from the Harry Potter franchise, but he’s been doing excellent work in other roles in the past few years with films like Never Let Me Go, Dredd, Anna Karenina, and most recently About Time. He has a knack for endearing and heartfelt performances, and his leading turn in the latter film was positively magnetic. He has a supporting role in Angelina Jolie’s upcoming historical drama Unbroken, and one imagines Star Wars is merely a stepping stone in a long career for this talented fellow.
Who He Might Be Playing: As he’s listed a bit further down on the press release, it’s possible that Gleeson has more of a supporting role in Episode VII than a lead turn. Again, no clue as to whether it’s as a “good” or “bad” guy, but his charm would certainly be put to great use as a Jedi.
Max von Sydow
Where You’ve Seen Him Before: The Exorcist, The Seventh Seal, Minority Report
Why You Should Know Him: The legendary Swedish actor has appeared in countless films over the decades, with a career that stretches from Ingmar Bergman’s classic The Seventh Seal to 2011’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Sydow brings a considerable amount of weight to every role he inhabits, and should make for a fascinating addition to the Star Wars universe.
Who He Might Be Playing: Given Sydow’s age, his character will likely have been kicking around the universe since the original trilogy. As such, it’ll be interesting to see how he fits in and what his connection is to the core characters of Luke, Han, and Leia. Is he a wise Jedi Master? An elder dark Sith lord? Something else entirely? At this point, we have no idea.
And then, of course, we have Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa), Anthony Daniels (C3P0), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), and Kenny Baker (R2D2) reprising their roles from the original trilogy of films. How big their roles are in relation to these new cast members is up for debate, but strong rumors have implied that the original trio will be a pretty significant part of Episode VII. Will Ford finally get his wish and give us a Han Solo death scene? We’ll surely find out on December 18, 2015.