Star Wars Screenplay Reportedly Changes Significantly As Casting Rumors Heat Up

Damn, J.J., you are one smooth operator with an understanding of how to keep your highly-anticipated blockbuster flying under the radar. While the world trains its collective eyes on the glitzy spectacle that is the Golden Globes, Abrams – or someone from his team – let’s slip some major casting possibilities for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Untitled Movie, practically guaranteeing it would fall through the cracks.

Not too far down the cracks, though. This is still Star Wars, after all.

Michael Fassbender, Hugo Weaving and Girls co-star Adam Driver are three names floated across the Web by THR, which cites a source saying these men – in addition to Breaking Bad star Jesse Plemons – are "on the list to chat with Abrams," while admitting that the list of names meeting with Team Star Wars is extremely long.

As the trade notes, you could fill a cast just with the names that have leaked out of the LucasFilm and Disney production offices (even though few, if any, have been confirmed). Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael B. Jordan, Jack O’Connell, Alex Pettyfer, Saoirse Ronan and Sullivan Stapleton have all been rumored to be part of Abrams’ growing Star Wars galaxy since the project was announced a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. No one is talking, yet. But the new names bring a ton of heat, and make sense… sort of. It’s hard to comment really until we have a story to talk about. Those details may be arriving soon.

THR’s article goes on to note that the script for Episode VII has "changed significantly" since screenwriter Michael Arndt left the project, and has been replaced by Abrams and scripter Lawrence Kasdan. Instead of it being a timeframe issue, THR reports that Arndt left due to a disagreement over which character(s) should be the focus of the new sequel. This is a MAJOR, and somewhat surprising, development. Says THR:

Arndt is said to have focused on the offspring of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), with the original trilogy's heroes taking on supporting roles. Abrams, however, wanted Episode VII to focus on the classic trio of characters, so audiences could have one more chance to enjoy them before a fitting send-off. The new characters, the offspring, will now be in supporting roles, according to these sources, and take center stage in Episode VIII and IX. Some characters have disappeared from the Arndt script and new ones are being added."

Given Abrams’ admiration for the original trilogy, it makes sense as to why he’d want one more adventure with the initial heroes of Lucas’ world. But the age of the actors can’t be overlooked. Do we want to 71-year-old Han Solo shooting first? Or an overweight Mark Hamill trying to swing across a chasm to save Carrie Fisher? It’s time to reboot the series.

The trade says Abrams is casting a wide net as he and Kasdan rewrite the screenplay. While Weaving is rumored to have been attached to the role of an Imperial commander, the production reportedly is searching for a young, female actor "who is either of mixed race or black" to play the daughter or granddaughter of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Believe it or not, amidst al of this uncertainty, Episode VII has a release date of Dec. 18, 2015. Will Abrams make it?

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and 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.