Benedict Cumberbatch May Play Sith Villain of Next ‘Star Wars’ Trilogy

Published 2 years ago by , Updated September 3rd, 2013 at 1:57 pm,

Star Wars 7 Benedict Cumberbatch Sith Benedict Cumberbatch May Play Sith Villain of Next Star Wars Trilogy

It’s high-time for Disney, with their two major acquisitions in Marvel and Lucasfilm beginning to cast key roles in each of their highest profile in-development projects, The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Star Wars: Episode VII, respectively. Both films begin shooting early next year with 2015 release dates and both were reportedly set to drop major casting announcements last week.

For Marvel it happened twice, with the official castings of James Spader in The Avengers 2 and Bradley Cooper joining Guardians of the Galaxy. Star Wars however, remains without a single official casting announcement yet multiple sources have word that Benedict Cumberbatch may be nabbing a lead part in Star Wars 7.

Thanks to denials however, the many sites holding onto this news held the scoop close to their chests until Film Chronicles confidently reported the imminent casting of Cumberbatch, corroborating reports of why Cumberbatch dropped out of Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak. When that news broke early yesterday, it spread like wildfire and the other sites who also had the scoop began sharing additional details.

The most interesting of which comes from Badass Digest who claim that not only is Cumberbatch joining  J.J. Abrams’ Episode VII but has been cast in a “major” villainous role for the entire trilogy, very likely as a Sith warrior. Whether the news is true or not – official word is expected to come soon, potentially along with the long-awaited confirmations that Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill are returning as well.

And if it does, expect to hear it from Lucasfilm itself rather than the usual trades. Like Marvel Studios revealing the pair of announcements last week on their own official site, Disney’s Lucasfilm aims to do the same, self-promoting via their own official channels.

Casting calls may have revealed several of the roles Abrams and co. are planning to cast, some of whom may be children of Han Solo and Princess Leia, but as with any J.J. Abrams project, everything currently remains a mystery – at least, officially. That makes the standard denials of Cumberbatch’s involvement impossible to believe at face value. That being said, Disney aims to avoid strict secrecy about their ushering in of the return of the Star Wars brand so once we hear one official casting, expect Lucasfilm’s new ownership to open up the floodgates, despite Abrams’ usual style.

Cumberbatch of course, earned much stardom thanks to his villainous, scene-stealing role in Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness this summer and the actor is a self-proclaimed lover of Star Wars, not shying away from sharing his interesting in continuing his working relationship with Abrams. The question is, after playing an intimidating and powerful villain in the Star Trek sequel, is it smart to have him potentially take on a similar role for another three films, or would the continuance of the saga be served better with him suiting up as a hero?

[poll id="670"]

In the meantime, Cumberbatch fans can look forward to his dual supporting roles in this fall’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and his starring role in The Fifth Estate.

[Update: Cumberbatch's reps are denying it. But that would happen if he was cast and Disney didn't want to announce anyway so... it's still a 'wait and see' situation.]


Star Wars: Episode VII is tentatively slated to reach theaters by Summer 2015, though it could wind up delayed until the Winter Holiday Season.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Source: BD

Follow Rob Keyes on Twitter @rob_keyes
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    • That’s funny, but unlikely as you probably know. I’d love to have such a strong actor involved, but if he isn’t fundamentally differentiated from his trek role as the heavy villain, then one or both franchises may be negatively effected. Like if he is (hopefully) given more to do in SW, the trek role may feel almost nullified and dull by comparison. Or if he looks nearly identical it may seem like “John Harrison” is now a Sith head. Odd potential for oddness here…

    • Exactly what I thought!

    • I actually would enjoy him as Thrawn!

    • i agreee. he would play a very good thawn

      • How dare you call him a Sith head!

  2. Finaly some GOOD news about the new Star Wars !!

  3. He’d make a good Sith, no doubt, but since he was the villain in Star Trek, I’d much rather see him as one of the heroes in Star Wars.

  4. How about a Sith crossing over to the good side? I’d see that!

    • I do like the idea of a more complex role where he becomes good

    • Nah, that’d make Darth Vader’s self-sacrifice pointless. The whole point of Darth Vader coming to the light side of the force was that it was an impossible task to accomplish.

      • It’s not impossible. If you have even a small grasp of the EU you’d know that’s not true. Jedi/Sith flip flop worse than fish out of water. Hell, Revan purposefully ‘fell to the darkside’ (or became neutral depending on your pov) for the greater good of the galaxy.

        As far as trivializing Anakin, no it doesn’t. He still brought balance. It was all Jedi for a very long time until Anakin flipped. Then he killed the Emperor and flipped again. Luke was trained like a traditional Jedi so he’s more open minded and neutral. Since he’s the only Master ‘neutrality’ will be the norm. That’s Anakin’s legacy.

        /extremely long-winded nerdy rant

        • Luke wasn’t*

          SR needs an edit button.

        • but is luke really a master? in terms of his knowledge of the force he seems pretty experienced by ROTJ, but his saber skills are still lacking compared to the properly trained jedi from before him, so who’s left to teach him?

          • Yeah Luke’s a Master in ROTJ. Maybe not to the Old Jedi Order (because of ideology/philosophy). And he can always fall back on the Force to boost his saber skills like Yoda.

            • you make a fair point sir :)

        • Yes which is why the extended universe is bad and shouldn’t be referred to when creating the new films. Next to everything that happens in the EU contradicts the films

          - The emperor returns as a clone thus making Anakin’s sacrifice and redemption meaningless
          - Other people return from the dark side showing that what Anakin did was no big deal
          - Literally EVERY ship after Death Star 2 is bigger and more destructive (meaning the rebels blew up what amounts to a slighter bigger Star Destroyer)

          The extended Universe just took Return of the Jedi and said “Hey pretty impressive what these guys did? Now watch a handful of people do the same thing again only better and against tougher enemies!” it’s Dragonball Z to the original trilogy’s Dragonball.

          And YES it does render Anakin’s sacrifice pointless since the whole point was showing how the love of his son helped pull him back from the dark side in time to save himself which meant a lot because it was suppose to be hard to come back from the dark side.

          • Anakin was all about “bringing balance to the Force”. The prequels say this numerous times. Don’t change the canon to your own personal interpretation.

            • I’m not. Bringing balance to the force means a neutral balance between sith and jedi. If anything as I’ve mentioned (and you’ve ignored) the EU breaks the canon by having other characters switch sides,

              The films set the standard, coming back from the dark side is next to impossible hence why The Emperor never expected Anakin to come to Luke’s rescue. Anakin was special, one of the best and even he found it difficult so when you have other people doing the same damn thing he’s not that special isn’t he?

              • LOL I bet they’re using the EU as source material for VII. Until we know for sure who’s right or wrong is speculation. I say it’s not impossible because it’s happened many times before.

                • Sorry but I just hate the EU. It makes no sense from a story-telling perspective, when you just go bigger you lock yourself in a corner in terms of stories where you just having the bad guy go “AND NOW I WILL BLOW UP REALITY ITSELF!” I’m fine with them referring back to certain characters or events that worked but certain aspects that I mentioned just need to stay out of the story.

                  I mean put it like this, Return of the Jedi saw the rebels destroy the Death Star, bring back Anakin from the dark side whilst putting an end to The Emperor and most of his regime over the galaxy,

                  Then in the EU, there’s another big-bad space station and a clone of The Emperor. The problem I have is that really you don’t have to try that hard to think up where the story can go from after ROTJ, have you seen what comes after a huge regime similar to The Emperor’s is stopped?

                  Civil War, riots, people just as bad as the dictator trying to seize power for themselves. Syria is as good an example as to why there wouldn’t be peace for too long, I mean sure the Stormtroopers were corrupt but now there’s nobody around to keep the law in place what’s to stop anyone from breaking the law?

                  Or in the places where the Stormtroopers are still in charge? They don’t have a powerful leader telling them not to beat civilians in the face with the butt of a laser rifle. The galaxy is a big place, the rebels can’t spread themselves thin enough to police an entire galaxy especially given their numbers after the battle with Death Star 2.

                  But instead of that it just seems to go down the “Here’s a bigger and badder version of Palpaltine” if you like the EU then there’s your business and I’ve got nothing against you but I’d much prefer to see what J.J Abrams has in mind (and if he sucks then he’s just directing Episode 7 so no harm, no foul)

                  • The EU isn’t canon, which makes me feel better.

            • No, he’s right…iv never read the extended universe and iv always interpreted the reason for Anakins return from the dark side as the bond between father and son. It wasnt easy to overcome the darkside, and from what iv heard of the EU it belittles the epic story of how a great man falls, and the redeems himself for the love of his son.

              IMO they should treat the Star Wars universe they same way they treat the Marvel one, a separate movie universe to the comic universe.

              • If you play video games check out Knights of the Old Republic. Then we can talk about how ‘EU belittles’ the movies. If you’re a fan you won’t regret it.

          • Those things do not render Anakin’s accomplishments “meaningless” or “no big deal.”

            I don’t expect he films to follow it, but the EU is not any worse on the whole than the films themselves. Both mediums range from superb to terrible. The best stories in the EU are as good as anything Star Wars.

            The “Emperor’s clones” bit from Dark Empire is an odd tangent, for sure; that whole series is cool but in my mind sort of an alternate reality.

            • I’m not denying that the EU has some good stories to tell but yeah they do. Again what did Anakin and the rebels accomplish?

              - Coming back from the dark side (Anakin)
              - Destroying Death Star 2
              - Killing Emperor Palpatine

              How does what I mentioned not render these things meaningless? I mean imagine if you accomplished vast achievements and then suddenly a person from the future came and said

              “Hey J83! In the future, all those impressive things you did? Someone else did the same things only better,faster and way cooler then you, also the evil regime you took down is back again with the same evil dictator!”

              I mean the Galaxy Gun for one blows up entire galaxies so clearly in this alternate universe blowing up the death star had no impact on the bad guys at all. Again like I said to the previous commenter, if you like the EU then that’s good for you but I’d just rather most of the silly stuff from the EU was kept away from the movies.

              And again, I have no problem with J.J Abrams borrowing certain elements from the EU, in fact the alternate reality angle could work. I wouldn’t mind the EU being able to exist on it’s own within an alternate universe and characters who exist in the EU (the good ones) being in the movies could be cool.

    • Similar to Revan and Exile?

  5. I thought villain when I first heard this rumor… it just makes sense.

  6. I;d rather him play a hero. Infact I;d rather him as Doctor Strange. Marvel have been nuts not to grab him while they could. He’ll be great no matter what role he has but I hope he has plenty of screen time as we hardly saw him in Star trek.

  7. More preferable than Khan in Star Trek. Although he did alright in that role, he was no Ricardo Montalban…and I say that as a major fan of Sherlock.

  8. I would like to see him play an out and out hero, i.e. a Jedi, mainly because I don’t want him to be a typecast villain – even if he is great at it.

    However, if he is cast as a villain then I’m going to wager that he is a clone of Darth Sidious. Even though I would prefer him to be a Jedi, I’m hardly going to complain if he cast as a villain/sith (if it is a Sith, it best be Sidious as he will nail it!!!). Also if he is Sidious, then hopefully Sideous will duel with two lightsabers this time as apparently he was meant to in Ep:III but McDiarmid wasn’t up to it :)

    • if anyone should play a clone of Sidious, it has to be Sam Witwer. Im a huge fan of Cumberbatch but if you’ve seen Witwer’s near perfect impression of Sidious you’ll know what i mean :P

      • @ Wade – that is a high quality impression! Either way, some shiz will go down when any official casting comes through :)

  9. the emperor’s prodigal son returns and is seeking revenge. the dark side is strong in this one.

  10. I said it before, if Cumberbatch play another villain again so soon, I’d pass that one. Also, Abrams is not the sort of filmmaker know how to shoot a great villain; see how Philip Seymour Hoffman was wasted in Mission Impossible III, and Cumberbatch was wasted in STID. Both are formidable actors, but the script and the camera work didn’t gave them enough to do and the editing didn’t do their characters justice either.

    • So if Benedict Cumberbatch plays a villain, you’ll completely skip out on SW 7? That’s ridiculous.

      • No, it’s not. The SW prequels are bad enough, and I don’t have much faith in Abrams. Cumberbatch’s performance kinda saved STID for me (and he saved his face for making a very thin character convincing), I don’t think I’ll waste time and money again for things not very interesting.

        • I’ not generally an Abrams fan or a fan of the prequels, but I do expect SW7 to be pretty good.

    • I actually completely disagree with Hoffman and Cumberbatch being wasted. Hoffman was the best villain of the MI movies imo actually. And, I actually think Cumberbatch’s Khan was the best villain of the year so far and last year; better than Loki,Bane,Lizard,Zod etc. By far actually.

  11. Emperor Clone :) a’la Dark Empire….

  12. Fantastic news, if true.

  13. Aww man, this is dope! I was hoping it was more than a rumor.

  14. If he does end up playing a villain, I hope he gets to wear some prosthetics or face-paint.

    I don’t think it’d be a wise move to have him look too much like he did in Star Trek: it’s rare enough already for a single actor to have multiple iconic roles (either as hero or villain), and the whole iconicity factor drops down, I feel, if said multiple roles don’t look distinct from each other.

    Sure, it may end up the other way around and look too much like a Darth Maul knock-off, but Sith designs are usually abundant in the facial alteration department.

  15. I don’t even care about Star Wars any more, just a slight interest but Cumberbatch should play a hero, not a villain. It’s tacky to me, he would probably play a lost Jedi or something, dark Jedi they refer to them as in the EU. But him being a hero would make it less predictable.

    Cast unknowns, the original cast were mostly unknowns, there has to be some actors out there that can shine.

  16. I still hope he gets to play Grand Admiral Thrawn. That would mean blue face paint and red eyes.

    • That was supposed to be @ Phil…thanks for not working reply button

  17. He could play a banjo on screen for two hours and I’d buy a ticket.. I’d say giving him a darker role would allow more for him to work with character wise which would play to his theatrical strengths for chewing up scenery.

  18. for those saying they will skip the film if he plays a villian…i say good for you because 9/10 you just want attention and there is a 10/10 chance you will be watching the film because your curiousity will get the best of you…so in other words…shut up and get ready for a good,bad,or a sub par film.

    • +1

      People b*tch and moan too often these days. Cumberbatch is a fantastic actor.

  19. Ok.

  20. Please God let this be true lol. He was incredible in start trek 2. he could be absolutely menacing as a sith lord. I’m not all that much of a star wars fan but I’d see this movie just on this casting choice alone.

  21. He would be amazing as a villain, but I’m hoping he is playing a hero. I really don’t want him typecasted as a villain. His talent is much too good for that.

    • Yup, I hope he’s a Jedi Knight. If not, like someone said below I wold rather he were like make up or mo cap. It will be hard to seperate his character in this movie from his character from Star Trek if hes human. He could do it cause hes an amazing actor and if they dont give him a generic lazy script and make him a good villain that is.

  22. its good news they are getting strong actors

  23. star wars is turning into star trek 3

    • Pretty sad. I know.

    • JJ Abrams never wanted to do Trek. He was always a SW fan. He took Trek because he thought it was the closest he’d ever get to SW at the time. I think he will do episode VII justice.

  24. I think the best way for this to work would be if he plays an alien character. He can do a voice of a villain, I just don’t know about him playing a human (or recognizing as Cumberbatch) too many main stream audiences would think “oh, he’s just playing pretty much the same villain from Star Trek again”. I think if he is just a voice of a villain or a character that requires a lot of make up then this could work.

    • This would work. Voice work/mo cap/makeup would work the best.

  25. Well, I would actually like it more if he was a Jedi Knight he will still own the role of a Sith Lord, even more than he did Khan in Star Trek.

  26. The connecting of the dots on this one creates too clear a picture.
    Rather than a rumor the circumstantial evidence points to his casting.

    Star Wars needs a heavyweight especially for a heavy and Benedict
    makes the weigh-in with pounds to spare as contending champion.

  27. I think a Sith lord or apprentice is a good role for Cumberbatch. I just watched Into Darkness again. His facial expressions are more reminiscent of Palpatine’s. While he was a good villain, I think making him Khan Noonin Singh (sp?) didn’t fit. I think he’ll actually make a better Sith villain than as Khan.

  28. Well whether you like it or not, Ben Affleck will be the new Batman. I think you might as well get use to it.

  29. This is like casting a guy who was in a Marvel movie as a DC character. I’ll be thinking the entire time “this guy played [secret bad guy name] in Star Trek.” Especially since Cumberbatch has a very very very unique face.

    • Much like Ryan Reynolds as that abomination in the Wolverine film and then being Green Lantern?