It is said that nature abhors a vacuum. Well, Star Wars fans abhor silence. Especially when it come to new films in the saga. We’ve been tracking the rumors about Episode VII here at Unbound Worlds as best as we can, but it seems like there’s always always another “source close to the production” with another tantalizing tidbit about the next tale in the greatest science fiction film series in the galaxy. (What? Star Trek? What’s that?)
With all of the rumors and what-if’s floating around about the internet and elsewhere about the new Star Wars film, it’s refreshing to get some actual news straight from the horse’s mouse’s mouth. Said mouse has been pretty quiet since breaking the news that there was going to be a new film, and while I can’t say that I blame the Disney Lucasfilm crew for holding their Sabacc cards close to their chest – I don’t like spoilers any more than the next guy or gal – I’m hungry enough for information that I’ll gobble up any morsels they see fit to serve.
Well, today they served up a few of those morsels at the official Star Wars website. Let’s take a look and see what we’ve got.
The biggest bit of news is confirmation that Episode VII will be set 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. That jibes with a lot of speculation that the new film will star both old characters and new, and may serve as a “passing of the torch” for future films.
The announcement also comes pretty close to confirming the very likely true rumors that some of the original trilogy’s stars are returning to the production, but comes short of identifying who is coming back and who isn’t. At this point, the only old character that we know for certain is returning is the lovable astromech droid R2-D2. However, we’ve seen a lot of stories that hint at Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford as returning cast members.
A Nightmare on Elm Street star and longtime friend of Hamill, Robert Englund, told a Nashville Comic Con audience last year that “…they’ve got Mark in the gym. Because Mark’s coming back as Luke Skywalker. They’ve got him doing his sit-ups.”
Hamill had stated in February of last year that he, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford have been in talks with the film’s producers, but has so far not confirmed his return. In a January 2014 Reddit.com “AMA”, Hamill said that he had no news to share, and that he likes keeping things a surprise, anyway.
Ford has been even more tight-lipped than Hamill, only saying that he’s “open to the idea. ” The closest he’s gotten to confirming his involvement was in an interview with Dean Richards of WGN. Ford told Richards, “I think it’s almost true. I’m looking forward to it. It’s not in the bag yet, but I think it’s happening.”
While Hamill and Ford haven’t said much, Fisher has said enough for both of them. Dispensing with all of the secrecy that has surrounded the production, Fisher has told several media sources that she, Hamill, and Ford are all returning to the film series. In an interview with TV Guide, Fisher said that they were expected to report to work in March or April of 2014. More recently, during an appearance on Dr. Drew Pinsky’s “Dr. Drew” podcast, Australian comedian Jim Jefferies (star of FX series Legit) confirmed that Fisher was returning to the series. He also mentioned the “life-sized” Millennium Falcon that was rumored to have been built for the new movie. Jefferies is a lifelong Star Wars fan and had recently produced an episode of Legit starring Fisher in a cameo role.
Disney Lucasfilm also announced that these “familiar faces” would be joined by three new leads. Literally dozens of actors have been the subjects of speculation regarding their possible involvement in the project, but nothing has been confirmed. Neither are any of the new character’s names or any other details about the new storyline, and many of the supposed casting calls and plot synopses we’ve seen online have been later revealed to be fake.
Finally, we’ve got a confirmed date for initial shooting: May 2014 at London’s Pinewood Studios. (Read my feature on Pinewood Studios here.)
It’s not a lot, but there you have it: All of the official Star Wars news we’ve got. In the meantime, we’ll keep watching for the latest in news and rumors.
Star Wars: Episode VII will release in theaters on December 18, 2015.