A handful of names have emerged as the latest leading candidates for J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII, and they would be actors contending for the movie’s lead role, though this character would be surrounded by familiar Star Wars names, like Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill.

Variety has the latest round of casting rumors, repeating the name of Breaking Bad co-star Jesse Plemons (who has been rumored for a while now), but adding several more intriguing names. Attack the Block star John Boyega, Downton Abbey co-star Ed Speleers, and theater actors Matthew James Thomas, and Ray Fisher are the latest names to be suggested by sources close to the production as the leading candidates for the lead part in Abrams’ sequel. As expected, Variety says that Disney "had no comment."

While none of those names may not move the proverbial needle, there are several other details in the Variety story that will interest you as you wait for substantial news items tied to Episode VII. The part being fashioned around these actors reportedly will be "a Jedi apprentice," and Abrams specifically is looking to cast a diverse actor to separate himself from "the previous Caucasian leads." Variety says this is the reason why actors like Michael B. Jordan and David Oyewolo auditioned early on in the process. The back-and-forth debate around this issue is being credited as the reason for the delay in production on Episode VII.

The trade also talks about the script change, saying that Michael Arndt’s original draft was supposed to focus on the children of Han Solo and Princess Leia. Now, however, those characters occupy "a supporting role." Maybe they will be held for future installments?

Again, as we have said in the past, it’s very hard to speculate on the possible role that a new actor would play until we have a much better idea of the story Abrams is choosing to move forward with. At the moment, it appears that the Star Trek director will build his new trilogy around a young actor who will receive support from tried-and-true Star Wars veterans, which is a very smart way to go. Lay the groundwork for one main hero. Populate the universe with several young characters who can develop in time. Build the franchise from the ground up. That’s one of the only ways that Disney and LucasFilm can properly establish this as a universe worth exploring for multiple movies from year to year.

We keep hearing a lot of the same names. This report has a few new ones. What do you think of the actors who, according to the trade, have moved to the top of Abrams’ wish list? Is there one who you would prefer to see over the others? Or do you simply trust in Abrams to make the right casting decision? I think he has to make a decision very soon ,as Variety says Episode VII will begin shooting "in the late second quarter or early third quarter in London’s Pinewood Studios."

Meet the actors up for the role on the next page!

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