Actor Benicio Del Toro is not at all far removed from his last performance in a big blockbuster space opera, as it was just last summer that the Oscar-winner found himself playing Taneleer Tivan a.k.a. The Collector in James Gunn's amazing Guardians of the Galaxy. Now it looks like he may get his next opportunity to head out into the cosmos, as a new report has linked him to the villain role in Rian Johnson's upcoming Star Wars: Episode VIII.

Sources have told The Wrap that Disney and Lucasfilm have extended an offer to Benicio Del Toro, and should the actor accept the part he will play the central antagonist in the first post-Force Awakens saga film. As you might imagine, there are currently no details available regarding the role he will be playing - but it's pretty easy to imagine the guy harnessing the dark side of the Force.

What adds an interesting twist to this situation is that this isn't the first time that Benicio Del Toro has been offered a key villain role in one of Hollywood's biggest sci-fi franchises. It was all the way back in November of 2011 that reports broke regarding J.J. Abrams approaching the actor about playing the central antagonist in Star Trek Into Darkness (a role that would later be revealed to be Khan Noonien Singh). Unfortunately for the project, it was reported just a few weeks later that Del Toro had passed on the opportunity - and as a result the production wound up going after Benedict Cumberbatch. So just because Star Wars: Episode VIII may have extended an offer to the Traffic star doesn't necessarily mean that he'll wind up accepting.

Should Del Toro decide to sign up for Star Wars: Episode VIII, it will be interesting to see how the role winds up combining with his part within the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. While it's not yet known if he will be back for Guardians of the Galaxy 2, his character's deep interest in Infinity Stones means that he should be playing an active role in Marvel's upcoming The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 and Part 2. And if he winds up being a villain in that continuity as well, it will be interesting to see how his turn in the Star Wars universe will differ.

While Star Wars: The Force Awakens won't be arriving in theaters until December, and Gareth Edwards' Star Wars: Rogue One hasn't even started filming yet, things are already starting to heat up for Rian Johnson's untitled Star Wars: Episode VIII. Production on the movie is expected to begin early next year, which is because the sci-fi film has already been dated for May 26, 2017. This means that the next few months are surely going to be filled with all kinds of big casting news and announcements, so definitely stay tuned!

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