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Jack O’Connell’s name has been associated with J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII for a little while now. Seeing as how the only person we know for sure is going to be in the sequel is R2-D2, Abrams is going to need to start pulling the trigger on some human actors, and O’Connell (no relation) could have a fast track to what’s being described as a "key" role.
Bleeding Cool breaks the news that O’Connell had multiple meetings with Abrams and his Star Wars team, and that they "went very well." While it’s unclear which part O’Connell would be vying for, it’s rumored that he could get the part that almost went to Matt Smith – which might also be the male lead that put out an open casting call weeks ago. At the time, as Collider notes, producers were looking for:
Young Man to Play 19 – 23 Years Old. Must be handsome, smart, and Athletic. MUST BE OVER 18. [Will play] THOMAS – Has grown up without a father’s influence. Without the model of being a man, he doesn’t have the strongest sense of himself, despite this he is smart, capable, and shows courage when it is needed. He can appreciate the absurdities of life and understands you can’t take life too seriously."
In a way, it sounds like that blurb describes a young Luke Skywalker, the hero we first met in A New Hope. And if Abrams wants to develop a new trilogy, then Thomas could be the hero around which a whole new arc is developed. In this instance, we can see how Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and other original Star Wars cast members could plug in and assist this new main character. But trusting a franchise to a new lead is a positive direction, I believe, for the new franchise.
So, who is Jack O’Connell? The British hunk is relatively unknown to American audiences, though he has played decent roles in the TV series Skins, Michael Caine’s Harry Brown, Starred Up and Eden Lake. He’ll be part of next year’s 300: Rise of an Empire, and is filming Unbroken, which Angelina Jolie will direct. Here’s a clip of his work.
Will it happen? No idea. Star Wars trades in rumors and hearsay. But we’ve been hearing O’Connell’s name for some time now, and I’m willing to bet that where there’s smoke, there is fire. As soon as news breaks, we’ll bring it to you. In the meantime, if you know another about O’Connell, tell us which performances we should look into.