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.