Artwork courtesy of Joshua Stolte
Welcome back to the Star Wars HoloNet Digest, a weekly feature where I bring you a recap of the latest news from the world of Star Wars. Whether it’s an Episode VII rumor or a noteworthy author interview, you’ll find it here. Let’s check the HoloNet and see what happened in the past week.
This was quite a week for Episode VII rumors. It began on Thursday, when Latino Review posted a trifecta of rumors covering casting and location. First, LR claimed that One Headlight Ink was correct about Episode VII filming in New Mexico, adding that it will take place in Las Cruces specifically but that “very little will be shot” there. Then, the site claimed that actress Saoirse Ronan was in the running for a role in Episode VII. On a possibly separate and possibly related note, LR said that they had heard that “there will be a female villain part as well.” Lastly, the site doubled down on the reports of Benedict Cumberbatch playing a role in the movie. “In fact,” LR claimed, “he will be in all three Star Wars films!” The site called Cumberbatch and his agent’s public statements disputing his current involvement “a smoke screen.”
Bleeding Cool then followed up with a report stating that “Saoirse Ronan has had a meeting and read for one of the lead roles – to the best of my knowledge, the lead role – in Star Wars Episode VII.”
The fun continued on Friday, with Latino Review claiming that David Oyelowo (Red Tails, Lincoln, The Butler) and Michael B. Jordan (The Wire, Friday Night Lights) are part of the casting process for Episode VII. The site went on to say that Oyelowo read for “some unknown role” and that Jordan met with Abrams personally.
That wasn’t the last we heard about David Oyelowo. On Monday, The Hollywood Reporter posted a story claiming that Oyelowo, along with Freddie Prinze Jr., Vanessa Marshall, Taylor Gray and Steven Jay Blum, were auditioning for spots on the voice cast of Disney’s small-screen Star Wars project, the animated TV series Star Wars Rebels. THR said that the five were “in the process of being cast as the voice leads” on the show. Lucasfilm offered its traditional non-denial denial, saying that they had no casting announcements to make at that time.
In comedy, there’s something called the rule of threes. I’m not sure if this qualifies as a comedic situation, but it certainly met the one-two-three criteria, because after Latino Review dropped Oyelowo’s name for Episode VII and The Hollywood Reporter did the same for Rebels, Jedi News reported that its prolific source “Jedi Master SQL” had verified Oyelowo’s “signed and sealed casting” in both projects. “[T]he plan is for him to also be in Rebels playing a character that sets up his Episode VII character,” the pseudonymous tipster told Jedi News. This synergy, he or she added, was “part of the major EpVII co-ordinated push being pulled together by Simon Kinberg and the first major sign that Rebels will be the vehicle to setup the masses for EpVII fever!!” Lucasfilm has not commented publicly on this rumor as of yet.
Unrelated to the is-he-or-isn’t-he saga of David Oyelowo is the last Episode VII tidbit that dropped this week. On Monday, Bleeding Cool claimed to have seen a casting call that was recently sent out to talent agencies specializing in “actors with extraordinary physiques.” The casting call requested a tall man between the ages of twenty-one and sixty who was around seven feet tall and had a “slim/thin build and upright posture.”
If I had to guess, I would say that this casting call –– if authentic –– is for Chewbacca. Peter Mayhew is not in the greatest shape, unfortunately, and even if he weren’t suffering from health problems, he is not as young as he was when he filmed the original trilogy. I can’t see Han in Episode VII without Chewbacca, and I can’t see Episode VII happening without at least a perfunctory appearance from Harrison Ford as Solo. It looks like Chewbacca may be the first main character from the original trilogy to be recast for the sequels.
We’ve talked about Episode VII and we’ve talked about Rebels, but what about that other big Star Wars project, the one that got shelved indefinitely in the wake of the Disney deal? You’d be forgiven for not knowing what I’m talking about, but it’s Star Wars Detours, the animated comedy series from Seth Green and company. In a recent “Ask Me Anything” Q&A on Reddit, Green addressed the series’ hiatus, telling readers that he and his creative team “have 39 finished episodes and around 62 finished scripts.”
Green went on to say that he and his team had had conversations with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy “about Star Wars in not just the next 3 years but the next 30 years.” Given the acquisition and the plans for the sequel trilogy, Green said, “We didn’t think it made any sense … to spend the next 3 years with an animated sitcom as 3 generations’ [sic] of kids first introduction to the Star Wars universe.” I think that’s a smart decision. I wasn’t eagerly awaiting the series; I didn’t hate that it was happening, it just wasn’t my cup of tea at all. Nevertheless, this is a move that fans and detractors of the series alike should support. There needs to be a carefully choreographed rollout of new Star Wars material under the Disney banner, and this was an example of better coordination among all parties toward that end.
Let’s move on to talk about the world of Star Wars literature. Yesterday saw the release of Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion: Razor’s Edge by Martha Wells, the author’s debut Star Wars novel and the first book in the Empire and Rebellion series. io9 posted a text excerpt from the book, while Entertainment Weekly shared a special audio sneak peek from the novel read by The Clone Wars voice actress Catherine Taber. Meanwhile, Wells has done interviews with numerous sites about her book, with some of the more recent examples being FANgirl Blog, GeekMom, and geek with curves. Reviews have also surfaced at TheForce.Net, EUCantina, Tosche Station, Jedi News, Club Jade, Lightsaber Rattling, and Knights Archive. On behalf of everyone at Unbound Worlds, I’d like to welcome Martha Wells to the Star Wars community!
Even as EU fans digested Razor’s Edge and the assorted reviews and interviews surrounding it, we learned of another Star Wars literature project on the horizon. On Monday, LucasBooks Senior Editor Jennifer Heddle tweeted that she was reading the manuscript for Ian Doescher’s second retelling of a Star Wars movie in the style of William Shakespeare. Appropriately enough, the book will be called William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back. Doescher previously wrote William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, which Quirk Books released last July.
Eric Geller is a college student majoring in political science whose interests include technology, journalism, and of course Star Wars. He reviews The Clone Wars TV series and manages social media for Star Wars fan site TheForce.Net. He also co-hosts The ForceCast podcast. He is originally from the Washington, D.C. area.