The news that many of us have been waiting for has finally arrived: the cast for the new Star Wars movie has been announced! And while at this point there wasn’t a lot of doubt that some of the cast from the original trilogy would return, it’s still fantastic to see it confirmed, especially when accompanied by this awesome photo from what appears to be a script reading. So lets get the big news out of the way first. Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Kenny Baker (R2-D2) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) will all be reprising their roles in at least the first film of the new trilogy!
They’ll be joined by a host of other actors, with some familiar faces and some whose IMDb profiles and Wikipedia pages are quickly being scoured by everyone on the internet as I write this. The legendary Max von Sydow is on the list, as is everyone’s favorite performance capture artist Andy Serkis (no word yet, of course, on whether he’ll appear as himself or as some alien creature via performance capture). Adam Driver, known to most from the HBO show Girls, has been the only semi-confirmed actor for months, but now it’s official. There’s also Domhnall Gleeson, known to everyone as Bill Weasley from the Harry Potter films, so get ready to see a host of crossover fanfic before the end of the day. There’s Oscar Isaac, who recently starred in Inside Llewyn Davis, as well as to relatively lesser known actors, John Boyega and Daisy Ridley.
At this point it’s too early for me to feel comfortable speculating on who these new additions to the saga will play, though Adam Driver has been rumored to be playing a villain, and I would expect at least one of the younger actors to be playing a child of our main characters. (It was also recently announced that the new trilogy would not be adhering to the Expanded Universe of Star Wars books and other media, so while it’s possible some characters make the crossover, we can safely assume that most of these characters will be new.) But honestly, today I couldn’t care less about these other actors, even if there are some intriguing names (particularly von Sydow and Serkis), because for me it’s all about Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, 3PO and R2.
I may have been one of the few people who was seriously upset that George Lucas would not be returning to write and direct this “sequel trilogy.” I was thrilled that Disney bought Lucasfilm, as I obviously have a lot of faith in Disney as a company, but Star Wars to me has always been about Lucas’s vision. The Star Wars films are pretty much solely responsible for my love of film, and I will defend the prequel trilogy until my last breath, so to have Lucas not be directly involved was definitely a cause for concern. I know it’s been said that they’re still telling his stories based on his very detailed outlines, but I worry that we won’t really be getting his vision for the universe. Add in my mixed feelings about J.J. Abrams as a director (Super 8 is a masterpiece, but the Star Trek reboot proved that he has no problem completely ignoring what was special about the original franchise.)
But they made some strong steps in the right direction on other fronts, starting with hiring Lawrence Kasdan as a screenwriter and bringing back John Williams to do the score. The casting of so many familiar faces, however, is immensely relieving, even if it was already widely assumed. For most of us, these actors will always be permanently attached to Star Wars, and for them to return gives me a lot more faith in the new films.
I know everyone will be focusing on Harrison Ford’s return (and the rumor is that Han Solo has the biggest role to play in the new trilogy), but for me the most important cast member is Mark Hamill. I think his performance in the original trilogy is one of the most authentic, genuine and iconic performances in the history of film. Yes, I realize that’s going to sound ridiculous to most people, as the general opinion is that Han is way more interesting than Luke, but I can’t change the way I feel. Hamill’s portrayal of Luke was really the emotional core of the trilogy, while also helping to ground the more fantastical elements of the universe. The reason we all believe in the force is because of Hamill’s ability to make it feel real. Hamill was Luke Skywalker, not just an actor playing him, so I’m thrilled he’s back.
We still don’t really know the plot of the sequel trilogy, but I hope it centers around Luke. Given that the first six films were the story of Anakin Skywalker, if these next three were the story of Luke, it would provide a nice symmetry, with a shared trilogy in the center for both characters. I know scruffy, sometimes morally ambiguous rebels who shoot first are what people generally want to see, but there is so much complexity in the Skywalker family and its central role in the fate of the Force that I want it to be Luke’s story, even if Harrison Ford has the bigger role. (Which is totally fine. The Prequels were Anakin’s story, but he wasn’t really the main character until Revenge of the Sith.)
Regardless, today’s news is definitely exciting. This new trilogy feels more real now than it ever has before. We’re still a year and a half away from the film’s release, and probably still a good ways away from any further information, especially about the film’s plot. Still, today is a good day to be a Star Wars fan, and I’ll take any chance to see all of these familiar faces in the same room.
What do you think? Are you excited that so many original cast members are returning? Where’s Billy Dee Williams (other than Dancing with the Stars)? What do you think of the new additions to the cast? Who do you think Max von Sydow is playing? Will Andy Serkis be doing performance capture? What do you think the plot will be? Let me know in the comments!