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‘Star Wars’ lead roles casting and plot rumours: Episode VII to focus on Luke, Leia and Han

- January 13th, 2014

If you’re a hardcore Star Wars fan, this tidbit might have you flying out of your chair. According to The Hollywood Reporter, J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Wars film has been reworked to focus on the trilogy’s original stars – Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher).

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THR reports that original scribe Michael Arndt departed the film over creative differences with the director. Arndt wanted the new film to focus more on the offspring of the trio, while Abrams wanted to give audiences another chance to experience the classic characters before a “fitting send-off.”

According to the trade, Abrams and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan have reworked the new characters into supporting roles that will emerge as the focal points in Episode VIII and IX. New characters have been added to the new script, while others have been dropped entirely.

THR also reports that Michael Fassbender, Girls star Adam Driver and Hugo Weaving are in contention for roles in Episode VII. Breaking Bad’s Jesse Plemons has also reportedly met with the director. Weaving, according to multiple sources, has had early talks for a part to play an Imperial commander.

This is in addition to Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael B. Jordan, Jack O’Connell, Alex Pettyfer, Saoirse Ronan and Sullivan Stapleton – all of whom have been linked at one point or another to the new film.

If the Weaving rumour is true it suggests that Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine were not fully vanquished at the end of Return of the Jedi. (Readers of the books can weigh in on the comments and let me know how the storyline was expanded after Episode VI).

Of course, nothing is confirmed until we hear it from Disney. But this is a fun way for Star Wars fans to start their week.

Star Wars: Episode VII opens Dec. 18, 2015.

J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan now writing ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’

- October 24th, 2013

So, this wasn’t the Star Wars news we were expecting. After weeks of rumoured release dates, working titles and casting news, Disney has announced that director J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan have taken over screenwriting duties on Episode VII from original scribe Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3).

The news was reported on StarWars.com.

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In a statement on the site, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy wrote: “I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. working on the script. There are very few people who fundamentally understand the way a Star Wars story works like Larry, and it is nothing short of incredible to have him even more deeply involved in its return to the big screen. J.J. of course is an incredible storyteller in his own right. Michael Arndt has done a terrific job bringing us to this point and we have an amazing filmmaking and design team in place already prepping for production.”

Arndt was brought on board to write the new Star Wars film in November 2012, with a storyline that was said to focus on the children of Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker.

Kasdan is a Lucasfilm veteran having penned the screenplay for Raiders of the Lost Ark and co-written both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. He is also set to write either Episode VIII or Episode IX.

Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past) will also have some involvement in one of the later films.

According to StarWars.com, location scouting, production design, casting, and costume design are all underway on Episode VII, and shooting will commence next spring for a 2015 release.

Casting has yet to be announced, but during an appearance on the U.K.’s Graham Norton show, Harrison Ford and Benedict Cumberbatch wouldn’t deny rumours that they’ll be appearing in the new film.

While we wait for real casting news, check out the trailer for Revenge of the Jedi, which is what Return of the Jedi was called before George Lucas had a change of heart.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Harrison Ford won’t deny ‘Star Wars’ rumours

- October 13th, 2013

So when you have Benedict Cumberbatch and Harrison Ford sharing the same couch to promote separate movies (the former was plugging The Fifth Estate, while the latter was talking up Ender’s Game), the question everyone wants to know is: Are you or aren’t you going to be in Star Wars: Episode VII?

During a joint appearance on the U.K.’s Graham Norton Show, the pair were asked about their involvement in the new Star Wars film. They mumble their way through the segment, but interestingly, neither actor denies they are appearing in the upcoming film.

“Are you and Princess Leia an old couple running a bed and breakfast?” Norton asks Ford.

“That’s why I’ve not quite made the choice,” he replies, with a smile.

Watch the video and let us know in the comments what you make of their waffling. Are they in or out? I think it’s pretty much a done deal that they both have some type of role in Episode VII. Why not just say no if it wasn’t true?

I can picture it now, a 73-year-old Ford wins Best Supporting Actor at the 2016 Academy Awards.

In case you are just joining us, rumours have been running rampant for months that Ford will be back for the next instalment reprising Han Solo. More recently, Cumberbatch’s name has been floated as a possible “Vader-type” villain in the new film, which is being written by Oscar-winner Michael Arndt.

Benedict played Khan in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness, and previously stated his love for George Lucas’ beloved sci-fi franchise. In an interview with the Toronto Sun’s Jim Slotek at TIFF last month, Cumberbatch was equally coy.

“No offers have been made across the board, so who knows?”

And it looks like Star Wars 7 isn’t the only sequel Ford potentially has up his sleeve. During his promotional rounds for Ender’s Game, Ford has dropped hints about Blade Runner 2 (he and director Ridley Scott have chatted about it) and indicated he will do Indiana Jones 5 in a “New York Minute.”

In more Star Wars news, Latino Review is reporting that the working titles for Episode VII are either Return of the Sith or Rise of the Jedi. Sorry, in case anyone at Disney is listening, I’m not a fan of the second one.

Too bad Into Darkness is already taken. That’s a fantastic title for a sequel.

And according to Jedi News there is speculation that a teaser trailer for Episode VII will hit theatres April 4, 2014, ahead of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and the film will be released Nov. 11, 2015.

That is strictly a rumour, but the summer 2015 movie release schedule is packed with The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Terminator 5, Independence Day 2, Jurassic World, Ant-Man, Man of Steel 2, and more, hitting theatres between May and August. I’m sure there’s a Fast & Furious movie in there somewhere as well.

If it is released in November, Star Wars 7 will only have to face competition from James Bond 24 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2.

And because it’s a long weekend, and you probably have a turkey in the oven (at least if you are in Canada), I’ll share with you the teaser trailer for the 1977 film that started it all. Posted by the Star Wars YouTube channel, the film was originally sold as “the story of a boy, a girl, and a universe.”

Isn’t it great how it turned out to be so much more?

Star Wars rumour: Obi-Wan Kenobi to appear in ‘Episode VII’

- August 16th, 2013

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Okay, so the other day reports surfaced that Ian McDiarmid will return as Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars: Episode VII. Now we’re getting word via Latino Review that Ewan McGregor will be back as Obi-Wan Kenobi in J.J. Abrams’ upcoming sequel.

Palpatine is rumoured to return as an evil Sith “ghost,” while Obi-Wan Kenobi will return as a Jedi “ghost.” Played by Alec Guinness in George Lucas’ original trilogy, Obi-Wan was killed by Darth Vader in Star Wars IV: A New Hope.

A spectral Obi-Wan appeared in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

Previously, McGregor has said he’d reprise his role, tweeting as much earlier this year.

And in an interview with MTV during promotional duties for Jack the Giant Slayer, McGregor revealed his own idea for an Obi-Wan spinoff.

“I think it’s a good idea,” McGregor said, when asked about giving the character his own film. “The only bit that I could get away with doing is after the last one I made, ‘Episode III,’ before Alec Guinness, there’s that period where he’s in the desert.

“That might be my window, there, to tell that story,” McGregor said. “I don’t know what he did in the desert. We could make up some stuff.”

Disney as said it plans to make a Star Wars film every year from 2015 until 2020, with spinoffs being eyed for Han Solo, Boba Fett and Yoda.

Whatever direction Abrams and writer Michael Arndt take, McGregor told MTV he’s game for returning as Obi Wan.

“Could be quite exciting. I’d be up for it, for sure, of course.”

Although Guinness appeared in Episodes V and VI, Lucas did replace Sebastian Shaw (who played the ghost of Anakin Skywalker at the end of Return of the Jedi) with Hayden Christensen in the 2004 DVD release. So I suppose J.J. could just as easily use McGregor.

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What do you think of this latest rumour? Are you excited? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Is this J.J. Abrams’ ‘Star Wars’ script?

- July 18th, 2013

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So maybe it’s nothing, but J.J. Abrams’ production company Bad Robot may have tweeted an image to the Star Wars: Episode VII script.

“Hot off the presses,” read the tweet. “Can you guess what’s behind the cover? #FoundAtBR #MysteryScript”

Now it could be anything – including an anniversary edition commemorating Abrams’ work on 1998′s Armageddon. But if I had to bet, I’d say it’s Michael Arndt’s script for the upcoming sequel.

Here’s a screenshot from Bad Robot’s IMDB page if you want to check those odds for yourself.

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Last month Bleeding Cool revealed the characters Abrams is looking to fill in the new movie are: a “military type” 40-something male; two teenage females, “tough, smart and fit;” a not traditionally good looking 20-something male; a 30-something guy who “apparently doesn’t need to be fit”; a 70-something male “with strong opinions and tough demeanour”; and a late 20-something male who is “handsome and confident.”