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The New Jedi Order : Thoughts on the cast of Star Wars VII

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Long time Star Wars fan Richard Cosgrove offers his thoughts on the recently announced Star Wars VII cast...

I have to admit, having allowed myself to build up ridiculous amounts of anticipation for the last new Star Wars trilogy I'm deliberately holding back this time for fear of being disappointed once again. That said, the official announcement of the cast for Star Wars Episode VII has piqued my interest somewhat.

Starting with the names that are new to the Star Wars universe, John Boyega is an intriguing pick for what is sure to be the male lead (crucially none of the cast have been assigned parts in the media yet so we'll have to speculate for now). I loved Attack The Block and particularly Boyega's performance and so it's not a great leap of imagination to picture him in a young Obi Wan type role.

Daisy Ridley isn't a name I'm hugely familiar with, but given that she's looking like being the main (and only, if this cast reveal is reasonably definitive) female role in the new film it'll be interesting to see whether she ends up being the daughter of Han Solo and Leia Organa.

Adam Driver seems to be no great surprise, but again not a name I'm hugely familiar with not having seen Inside Llewyn Davis. He does have an interesting look to him, though, and I can imagine either a renegade Han Solo type role here, or perhaps something a little darker.

Oscar Isaac I'm more au fait with, having enjoyed Zack Synder's Sucker Punch, and I can see something of an authoritative role here. Somebody with a purpose and gravitas, but on which side? Therein lies the question.

Andy Serkis is an interesting choice, not because he isn't a fine actor, having proved that he is aces outside of the world of mo-cap in the 2010’s Ian Dury biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, but as to what exactly his role will be. After that Gungan in the previous trilogy, Star Wars badly needs a credible CGI character, and if anybody can pull that off, then it's Serkis.

My initial thoughts about Domhnall Gleeson are that with his touch-of-the-Obi-Wan's look he could be a lock for some kind of loveable rogue character to share lead duties with Boyega and Ridley. Or not. Time will tell.

The most exciting of the new cast members by far, though, is the legendary Max Von Sydow. He's Father Merrin. He's Ming The Merciless. What more do you need? With Sir Christopher Lee being one of the better things about the Prequel Trilogy, J J Abrams may have pulled a master stroke in getting somebody of Sydow's standing in the movie and will hopefully give him a role that will fully showcase his not inconsiderable talent.

It's not all newbies, of course. To nobody's surprise the terrific trio of Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are all returning and it's a safe as houses bet that they'll be reprising their previous roles. I know I should be really, really excited about this, and I am a little, but as I wrote over a year ago, I'm not sure if I really want to see my old friends, well, old. (That said, if it prevents Ford from doing another Indiana Jones film, then at least that's an upside.)

Though the setting of the new movie is consistent with the passage of time in the real world, with events occurring thirty years after Return of the Jedi, I'd rather remember Han Solo swashing and buckling his way through the galaxy rather than coughing and hacking in the common room of the Mace Windu Home for Geriatric Jedi.

At least Peter Mayhew can climb into the Chewbacca suit and pretend to be a fully compus mentus Wookie, and Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker are welded into their suit of armour and dustbin accordingly so there's no real concerns there (not that anybody would know if Baker was in there or not anyway).

Of all the returning Star Wars alumni, there is however one glaring omission, and that's the lovable scoundrel himself, Lando Calrissian. Arguably one of the best of the original characters, it's a little sad that there's no mention of Billy Dee Williams bringing his twinkling eyes back to the saga and one that in my humble opinion Abrams should do something about (unless of course Williams doesn't want to come back, in which case fair enough.)

I'm sure as the release date of Episode VII draws nearer I'll begin to get more excited, even if I try not to, but while the new blood coming on board are encouraging, and the returning old (old, old) faces are a curious but not entirely surprising development, only time will tell whether J J Abrams is going to be revered as the man who brought balance back to the Star Wars universe, or whether he will become forever known Jar Jar Abrams.


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