If it were up to J.J. Abrams, we’d find out who stars in Star Wars: Episode VII on Dec. 18, 2015 – when the movie opened in theaters.
But we are a news-bite-consuming culture, and we crave insight (and updates) on every move of a major tentpole like Episode VII. So we track progress on Abrams’ sequel. Who’s writing it now? Who will star in it? And when will it begin filming? According to Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn, the cast will be finalized soon. And as for filming… well, that began already.
In an interview with THR, Horn said production is underway (that’s a bit of a shock), and that the cast is practically there.
"We’re actually shooting some of it now. … We have a lot of [the cast in place]. We’re just not completely done yet."
The biggest problem has been the screenplay. That’s what happens when you start with an Oscar-winning scribe like Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine), but then switch gears for someone with Star Wars experience in Lawrence Kasdan. It’s unclear how much of Arndt’s treatment will remain in Epsode VII, but Kasdan and Abrams reportedly reworked the script and now are underway. When asked to elaborate on the timeline, Horn explained this about the storyline:
"[Episode VII will pick up] where 6 left off — and where 6 left off is 35 years ago by the time this is released."
Listen to Horn right here:
There’s still a lot of speculation that we are going to get all of the major details about Episode VII on May 4 ("May the Fourth be With You!"). Abrams could confirm on that date that original trilogy stars Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill officially are back in the fold – just 35 years after the last time we saw them. He also could confirm something meaningful… like the title of the upcoming sequel! And, of course, we’d love to hear which names emerge from the long list of potential actors and actresses who have auditioned for Abrams’ sequel for the past year and a half, from Benedict Cumberbatch to Lupita Nyong’o. Abrams loves the Mystery Box approach to massive-screen storytelling. Sooner or later, now that filming has begin, he’s going to have to start spilling the beans. Right? Until then, here’s the trailer for Return of the Jedi, to help remind us where we left off, and what we can expect when Star Wars: Episode VII opens in theaters late next year.