J.J. Abrams Wants To Cast Relative Unknowns In Star Wars: Episode VII

Before A New Hope, Harrison Ford was best known as a carpenter, Carrie Fisher was Debbie Reynolds’ daughter, and Mark Hamill was an aspiring actor and the son of a Naval captain. Star Wars put these three relative unknowns on the map, and it sounds like J.J. Abrams wants to do something very similar with Star Wars: Episode VII.

Lost and The Lord of the Rings co-star Dominic Monaghan appeared on the video podcast Dweebcast, and opened up about his relationship with Abrams and the director’s approach to this material. He said that, in conversations with Abrams, it’s always been clear that he wants to make stars out of newcomers, not look for massive celebrities (like Zac Efron) who will distract from the story with their presence. Monaghan says:

We’ve talked a few times about it and he said, ‘We’re putting together a cast of unknowns – we want to follow the ’77 New Hope cast because obviously Harrison Ford wasn’t well known at that point, Mark Hamill wasn’t and Carrie Fisher wasn’t either. What he said was, we don’t want to fall into that mistake of people going, ‘Oh it’s that guy from that thing!’ and then you’re completely out of the Star Wars universe.’

Which, on paper, sounds great. Except when you cast that relative unknown and you get Jake Lloyd:

Or Hayden Christensen:

Now, those young actors were surrounded by the likes of Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor, and it does sound like Abrams will want to comfort his newcomers with proven Star Wars veterans… probably Hamill, Ford and Fisher, if the rumors we’re constantly hearing pan out. And this backs up the five names we heard a while back as to whom Abrams and LucasFilm want for their lead role. (Though I’d argue that between Friday Night Lights and Breaking Bad, Jesse Plemons is pretty recognizable. More recognizable than, say, Adam Driver from Girls (who reportedly landed the movie’s villain role recently).

So Monaghan tips his hand to Abrams’ approach. Is it still J.J.’s approach? Have plans changed? We will continue to track. In the meantime, listen to the actor in his own words, and tell us who you want to see in the lead role for Episode VII -- whatever it will be called!

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.