Star Wars: Episode VII Cast Reveal Includes Variety Picks from HIFF

Director J.J. Abrams revealed the cast of upcoming blockbuster Star Wars: Episode VII on Tuesday, and in addition to some returning favorites from the original trilogy, the new film features three of Variety‘s “10 Actors to Watch,” the list of hot up-and-comers announced each year at the Hamptons International Film Festival.

Adam Driver and Domnhall Gleeson from Variety‘s “10 Actors to Watch” class of 2012 and Oscar Isaac from the class of 2013, along with fellow Star Wars newcomers John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Andy Serkis and Max von Sydow, will join saga veterans Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in hotly anticipated new film. Driver and Isaac also starred together in brothers Ethan and Joel Coen‘s recent critical darling Inside Llewyn Davis, which was partly filmed in Riverhead.

“We are so excited to finally share the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again,” Abrams said in the announcement on StarWars.com, adding, “We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud.”

Adam Driver

Adam Driver, Photo: USMC, Public Domain

It appears Variety‘s annual talent picks for HIFF are spot-on, as all the “10 Actors to Watch” choices are thriving amongst their Hollywood peers. Before the Star Wars announcement, Driver was best known for his role as Adam Sackler, the eccentric boyfriend of Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham) on HBO’s Girls — which has also filmed on the East End.

Gleeson, on the other hand, has already experienced being attached to a major film series and licensing property as Bill Weasley, eldest brother of Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I and II.

Isaac played the titular lead in Inside Llewyn Davis and has been in films such as Zack Snyder‘s Sucker Punch, Robin Hood (2008), The Bourne Legacy and Drive.

Oscar Isaac in Joel and Ethan Coen's INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS

Oscar Isaac in Joel and Ethan Coen’s INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
Photo: Alison Rosa ©2012 Long Strange Trip LLC

Other success stories from Variety’s “10 Actors to Watch,” include David Oyelowo (class of 2013), who provides voice acting for Star Wars Rebels, an animated Disney Channel series that takes place between the first and second trilogies — after Revenge of the Sith (2005) and before A New Hope (1977) — as the Empire is taking hold of the galaxy and hunting down the remaining Jedi Knights, and the Rebellion is just taking shape.

Dane DeHaan (class of 2013) stars as Harry Osborn in Amazing Spider-Man 2 (another Disney property, as the mega-company now owns Marvel Comics and the Star Wars franchise), while Scoot McNairy (class of 2012) had a part in 2013’s Best Picture Oscar-winner Argo, and he plays a central role alongside Ben Kingsley in Marvel’s Thor the Dark World Blu Ray extra Marvel One-ShotAll Hail the King.

The Star Wars: Episode VII cast has been revealed, but Abrams and the studio are mum about the newcomers’ roles in the film.

Of course, Ford will reprise his role as puckish rogue, smuggler and reluctant hero Han Solo, while Fisher returns as his love interest and slave-costume legend Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan. Now also famous for his animated Joker voice, Hamill is back in the role of first trilogy lead and Jedi Luke Skywalker, and 7-foot-2-inch actor Mayhew will don his costume as Solo’s furry, right-hand Wookie, Chewbacca.

Finally, Mayhew’s physical opposite, the 3-foot-8-inch Baker will once again play beloved, and iconic, astromech droid R2D2, while Daniels returns as well-mannered human protocol droid C-3PO. The pair have acted together in all six Star Wars films and will likely appear in each episode of this newest trilogy. 

Star Wars: Episode VII is written by Lawrence Kasdan, scribe of fan-favorites The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and Abrams, the film’s director. John Williams is also back as composer.

The movie is scheduled to open worldwide on December 18, 2015.

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