If unknown actors are cast in undisclosed roles, does the announcement constitute “news”? Probably not, but we will pretend it matters because of the movie they have been cast in: Lucasfilm and Disney yesterday announced the casting of newcomers Crystal Clarke and Pip Andersen in two unrevealed roles in Star Wars: Episode VII.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement:
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.
I’m pretty sure that acting legends Sir Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing might take exception to Kennedy’s assertion, but I think we get what she meant: Very few people had heard of Mark Hamill before the original Star Wars.
Celebrated indie director Rian Johnson – known for his time-travel action film Looper, starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as well as Brick – has been chosen by Disney to direct the next two Star Wars sequels, Episode XIII and IX. He will also script XIII and write at least a treatment for Episode IX if not the actual screenplay.
This move reinforces the trend of choosing bright young directors on the rise to rebuild Lucasfilm’s franchise, such as the previously announced Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) and Josh Trank (Chronicle, Fantastic Four), who will oversee so far unspecified spin-off movies.
When scriptwriter Michael Arndt (of Toy Story 3 fame) left Star Wars: Episode VII last week — it remains to be seen whether he jumped ship or was pushed — I was more than a little concerned, but with word this week that Disney executives will not allow the highly-anticipated project to be pushed from its previously announced May 2015 release date, I’m starting to stare nervously at the panic button.
Arndt’s departure paved the way for director J.J. Abrams to take a hand in penning the screenplay (not a strength of his), and he had the sense to upgrade “consultant” Lawrence Kasdan to co-screenwriter. Kasdan, of course, wrote the shooting script for The Empire Strikes Back (as well as Return of the Jedi and Raiders of the Lost Ark), so that bodes well for the project. However, the new screenwriters are not going to be building off Arndt’s script, but rather starting from scratch!