You Cast ‘Star Wars: Heir to the Empire’ Round Five: Mara Jade


Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars: Heir to the Empire was a blockbuster and boundary breaker: It broke out of the fan underground and onto the New York Times Bestseller list, broke down the boundaries between film and written word, proving succinctly that a story is never truly over as long as someone wants to hear more, and broke through the known limits of the Star Wars universe, exploring places that the original trilogy never did. Would we have had an Expanded Universe without Heir to the Empire? Probably not.

Heir to the Empire picks up five years after Return of the Jedi. The galaxy is struggling to heal the wounds of war after the defeat of Darth Vader and the Emperor. Princess Leia and Han Solo are married and expecting twins and Luke Skywalker is now the first in a long awaited new line of Jedi Knights.

But thousands of light-years away the last of the Emperor’s warlords-the brilliant and deadly Grand Admiral Thrawn-has taken command of the shattered Imperial fleet. He’s ready it for war and aimed it right at the heart of the fragile new republic.

Fans would love to see an Heir to the Empire movie, and we would too! To celebrate the 20th anniversary edition of Heir to the Empire, we’re going to indulge in a little game of what-if, and we’d like for you to play along. We thought it would be fun to try to cast each of the book’s major roles, and after a little email brainstorming, we came up with a list of likely candidates to portray the key characters. We’d like our readers to help narrow them down and cast the movie.

We’ll list a character each weekday and the five actors we think are right for the part. You simply vote for the actor you want to see win the role. Don’t like our choices? Cast a write-in vote using the embedded poll software! We’ll announce our final cast on September 20.

Oh, and we should mention that since it’s been decades since Return of the Jedi was filmed we’ll need to recast all of the characters, so we’ll be asking you to cast new actors in some of the saga’s most iconic roles. Controversial? Maybe. Fun to discuss? You bet!

Today’s character is Mara Jade.


Mara Jade: As former Hand of the Emperor, Mara Jade struck fear into the hearts of the Empire’s enemies. Raised from birth to be a perfect assassin, Jade went rogue after Palpatine’s death, eventually joining forces with smuggler Talon Kaarde.

Here are five actresses we think might make a good Mara Jade. Click the links to view their IMDB profiles, and then vote for your choice:

Emma Stone
Emily Browning
Charlize Theron
Scarlett Johansson
Jessica Biel


Click here to vote for round six: Lando Calrissian!

  • Space Girl

    This may be the toughest one of all– it’s like how Comic book fans always have difficulty liking anyone picked to play Wonder Woman. It’s an iconic and beloved role, I don’t feel like any of these choices are right. I’ll chime back in if I come up with any ideas.

  • Peter

    Famke Janssen. She is the complete package to bring Mara Jade to life.

  • Slickric

    I think Amy Adams would be a better choice

  • DavemJones

    I like Jessica Biel in this role. Tough character to cast though.

  • Bianca Christine

    Rachel Nichols — she was Scarlett in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

  • pete

    very tougth, none of those choices though. i reckon Kate Beckinsale or as in the post before Rachel Nichols

  • Frode

    I’d love to see Adrianne Curry in this role.

  • bigalosu

    @Frode: What? Don’t put someone into a role b/c they are a fangirl. She has to have the chops for the role and Adrian Curry didn’t even have the chops for reality tv. EPIC FAIL.

    I would say out of the list, Charlize. A good write-in would be Milla Jovovich or an older version could be Julianne Moore.

    Personally, a no-name would be my preference.

  • Space Girl

    I like the Famke Jansseen idea, but I think she may be a little too old for the Heir era Mara… I like Isla Fisher’s looks, but I don’t know about her acting chops for the role.

  • Bryce Dallas Howard. That is all.

  • Star

    Out of the five, I chose Emily Browning. She has the look of Mara more than the other four. But if we are talking about an unknown, check out Alyssa Campanella–the current Miss USA. She’s a self-professed Star Wars fan. Dont’ know if the girl can act…but she has the Mara Jade circa HTTE look down

  • Michelle
  • Frode

    @bigalosu: I try not to judge someone by their appearance in reality shows, but she has an amazing physique which would be perfect for the role. But Mila would be a great runner up… 🙂

  • H-BOMB

    EMMA STONE all the way!

  • Jaira97

    Dina Meyer. Dina Meyer, Dina Meyer, Dina Meyer.

  • echo 138

    don’t really care for these five as mara. famke janssen would be good if this were NJO or FOTJ.

  • Rob

    Felica Day

  • Boon

    Felicia is too soft for Mara. Don’t get me wrong, I love Felicia Day, and there’s definitely a place for her in the EU. Danni Qui would be my casting pick for Felicia Day.

  • Jim

    I always thought Penelope Ann Miller, Mira Sorvino and/or Amy Yasbeck would make a fine Mara Jade.

  • David Brown

    Rachel Nichols all the way… the image above even looks like her

  • Corellianrogue

    How old is Mara Jade in Heir To The Empire? This actress is probably too old now (she’s 51 but could pass for 40something I guess) but Kim Thomson would have been PERFECT for Mara Jade. Seriously, she looks EXACTLY like her!

    I don’t watch Emmerdale, I actually remember her from the old sitcom Brush Strokes.

  • Ryan

    Bryce Dallas Howard or Jessica Chastain.

  • Bryce

    I click on Jessica Beihl but after reading comments – Rachel Nichols hands down!

  • Dark Father

    None of these actresses fit the part at all. They need someone who is beautiful but tough. I choose Serinda Swan with died red hair. She has already played a tough female and did it well.

  • I think most of these are terrible choices for Mara Jade. The only one I think is an ok choice is Charlize Theron.

    But Kate Beckensdale is Mara Jade.

  • Scott Hintze

    Hilary Swank would be the best choice as Mara Jade. Unlike Angelica Jolie, Hilary has the best hair style ever. I enjoy her roles in “Next Karate Kid” and “The Freedom Writers”. She needs to play fictional characters. I hope she can play Noriko in the PS3 game “Heavenly Sword”.

  • Manolo

    Rachel Weisz (but she would be NJO age by now)!!!

    Kristen Cloke, who was Shane Vansen on SPACE: Above and Beyond, 10 years ago, she would have been a definite!!!

  • Dooku

    Sienna Miller would be great for this, I think. She can look tough but she seems to have the underlying decency that would help her transition to heroic Mara.

  • George

    I think Rachel Nichols is a decent choice, but I’m going with Felicia Day. I know someone called her “soft,” but have you seen this girl FIGHT? She knows how to use a lightsaber better than Ewan MacGregor! Also, it would be great to see her play against type.

    Of the choices offered, I think Scarlett Johanssen is the best choice, but not a great one. I always pictured someone lean and hungry as Mara (another point in FelDay’s favor). At the time I read the books, I pictured Bridget Fonda.

  • Kharn9

    Would have chosen Famje Janssen, but given the possibilities : Charlize Theron

  • Madman007

    Ever since she appeared on 24 in the 7th and 8th Day, I believe we have found a great Mara Jade in Annie Wersching. Tough and emotional with a dancer’s figure as Zahn described.

  • Alan

    I find it odd the actresses that are being suggested in the comments. I mean, a lot of them are great but they are far to old to play Mara in Heir to the Empire. She is supposed to be in her early to mid-20s.

    Now, a lot of them would be great for NJO-era Mara. But that is a whole different thread entirely. 🙂

  • Rieges

    Ali Larter – She has the attitude and physicality to pull it off

  • Alan

    Famke Jennsen – 47

    Kate Beckensale – 38

    Milla Jovovich – 36

    Bryce Dallas Howard – 30

    Dina Meyer – 43

    Penelope Ann Miller – 47

    Mira Sorvino – 44

    Amy Yasbeck – 49

    Hillary Swank – 37

    Ali Larter – 35

    Mara Jade is supposed to be about 21-ish at this point in the Star Wars time line.

    Some of these actresses would have made GREAT Maras 15-20 years ago.

  • Alan

    Famke Jennsen – 47

    Kate Beckensale – 38

    Milla Jovovich – 36

    Bryce Dallas Howard – 30

    Dina Meyer – 43

    Penelope Ann Miller – 47

    Mira Sorvino – 44

    Amy Yasbeck – 49

    Hillary Swank – 37

    Ali Larter – 35

    Mara Jade is supposed to be about 21-ish at this point in the Star Wars time line.

    Some of these actresses would have made GREAT Maras 15-20 years ago.

    (Which, if the unstated point of some posts was: Actress would have been great at the right age… I can certainly see that point. 🙂

  • Alan

    Famke Jennsen – 47

    Kate Beckensale – 38

    Milla Jovovich – 36

    Bryce Dallas Howard – 30

    Dina Meyer – 43

    Penelope Ann Miller – 47

    Mira Sorvino – 44

    Amy Yasbeck – 49

    Hillary Swank – 37

    Ali Larter – 35

    Mara Jade is supposed to be about 21-ish at this point in the Star Wars time line.

    Some of these actresses would have made GREAT Maras 15-20 years ago.

    (If the unstated points of those posts was: INSERT ACTRESS NAME HERE would have been great at that age to play Mara… Well, I can certainly see that point. 🙂 )

  • Alan

    Ack! Sorry for all the duplicate posts! ::sheepish::

  • Kit

    Dina Meyer. Definitely. She kicked some serious butt in Starship Troopers.

  • Damon

    Kate Mara…….that is all.

  • Ann

    Jessica Chastain. Actually, Olivia Wilde would be better as Mara than as Leia. Or Jennifer Lawrence from \X-Men: First Class\.

  • Sihaya

    Keeley Hawes from “Ashes to Ashes” and “Upstairs, Downstairs.”

  • JediDad

    Christina Hendricks anyone? Anyone who saw her on Firefly well…she does kick some behind and is quite easy on the eyes too

  • Nate

    I’m voting for Kate Mara. I mean, look at this!

  • Gabe

    Emily Blunt!

  • Lee Taylor

    My comment is regarding the Minion Type used in printing \Star Wars Heir to the Empire\. So far it has been a delightful read. Each and every word is so easy to read that you just glide over the pages with ease. I wish all books were printed using the Minion Type becasue it would be easier on the eyes. I am reading another book at the present time that uses a different type style. As much as I like reading the book I will be glad when I have finished the book. Thank you for the book and keep up the good work.

  • Dr Baloo

    Karen Gillan. Make Mara Scottish!!!!

  • hanimal

    I’m not a big fan of Jessica Beil, but I think she’d have this in the bag.

  • Squid

    I voted Scarlet, but whover said Alyssa Campanella is actually spot on, too bad theres no real chance of her winning for a write in, but shed need an acting coach probably

  • wsk

    Felcia Day – she would be perfect!!

  • spooky

    Why is Amy Adams not in the discussion.

  • Michelle

    Mara’s 28 or so in HTTE. She’s not 21. She’s a year or so younger than Luke and Leia and they were 28.

  • Cal

    Has to be Bryce Dallas Howard!!!

  • John

    How can you not write Shannon McRandle – the physical inspiration for Mara Jade for the SW CCG.

  • Lunza

    Karen Gillian (Amy Pond in \Doctor Who\).

  • you

    How about Olivia Wilde?

  • Solomon

    “How can you not write Shannon McRandle – the physical inspiration for Mara Jade for the SW CCG.”

    Because she’s a model, not an actress.

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