‘Star Wars: Episode 7′ Young Male Lead Actor Shortlist Revealed

Published 1 year ago by

star wars episode 7 image Star Wars: Episode 7 Young Male Lead Actor Shortlist Revealed

We’re inching closer and closer to when director J.J. Abrams will start production on Star Wars: Episode VII, which explains why there’ve finally, finally been some things closer to concrete news on the casting front of late.

As it stands, Adam Driver (Girls) appears to have the role of the central antagonist in the bag; meanwhile, fan-favorite original trilogy stars Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford remain officially unconfirmed, though Fisher has now asserted on multiple occasions that all three are coming back. (And, frankly, if there’s anyone connected with this project that you can trust to tell the truth, it’s Carrie Fisher.)

Most recently, Fisher revealed that she’ll be spending around six months in London for the Episode VII shoot. That might seem trivial, but that tidbit lends additional credibility to the rumor concerning Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan’s (The Empire Strikes Back) rewrite of the earlier Episode VII script draft by Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) – namely, that the pair’s revised version of the screenplay features Luke, Leia and Han in prominent roles, while the film’s young protagonists (relations of the Skywalkers and Solos, in all likelihood) have had their screen-time reduced.

On the plus side, that eases the pressure on Abrams to cast actors with greater recognizability in the lead roles, simply for marketability purposes – a move that certain Disney/Lucasfilm executives probably wouldn’t have minded (see: those not-so-popular rumors about someone like Zac Efron being eyed for Episode VII). According to a new report from Variety, there are currently five actors at the top of Abrams’ shortlist for the male lead role – none of whom are big name stars, and a couple of which come from a theater background (rather than a movie/TV upbringing).

The actor shortlist includes previously-reported candidate Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad), along with four people who’re new to this conversation: John Boyega (Attack the Block), Ed Speleers (Downton Abbey), and theater actors Matthew James Thomas and Ray Fisher. (Interesting tidbit: Latino Review is claiming that 300: Rise of an Empire star Sullivan Stapelton – who was previously rumored for Episode VII – was actually up for the role of Luke’s padawan, which may no longer exist in the film’s current script draft.)

star wars episode 7 actor shortlist Star Wars: Episode 7 Young Male Lead Actor Shortlist Revealed

Boyega, Plemons and Speleers shortlisted for ‘Episode VII’

Last time Speleers was cast in a prospective franchise-starting role – in Eragon – the final outcome wasn’t so great, so a lead role in Episode VII would be a second shot at tentpole stardom for him. Boyega, on the other hand, arguably showed real leading man potential in the critically-acclaimed Brit sci-fi/thriller Attack the Block, but has not yet been given an opportunity to try and breakout larger than that. As for Thomas and Fisher – actors with a strong theater background are nothing new for the Star Wars franchise, so their casting seems plausible in that regard (with nothing else to go on, that is).

Variety is reporting that part of the reason for the slow casting process is because – similar to (part of) the reason behind certain recent superhero movie casting announcements – the creative minds and money people behind Episode VII – Abrams included – are interested in assembling a more diverse cast, if only for demographic-satisfying purposes (though, there are other, more admirable reasons to have a diverse cast). That in part explains why non-white actors like rising star (and Plemons’ ex-Friday Night Lights co-star) Michael B. Jordan was approached at one point, along with the respected character actor David Oyelowo (The Butler) and – if you believe the rumors – Oscar-nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), who may’ve been in consideration (or remains in the running) for a role in the film.

star wars 7 lando billy dee williams Star Wars: Episode 7 Young Male Lead Actor Shortlist Revealed

Billy Dee Williams (who’s expressed an interest in Episode VII) is one of multiple Star Wars vets rumored to return for the seventh movie, so it’s certainly possible that a member of the younger generation of characters that’s going to be introduced in Abrams’ film is the son of Lando Calrissian. Hence, the chance that more than one actor from this shortlist – like Boyega and one of the other four potentials – could end up securing different roles in Episode VII, assuming that Abrams and Co. are sufficiently taken with them.

Last bit of food for thought – Variety‘s report also mentions that Episode VII will feature “more recognizable stars for supporting parts,” included the aforementioned original trilogy players. That lends just a tad bit more credibility to those rumors about Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness star Benedict Cumberbatch and Gary Oldman – who’s confirmed that he has been approached for Episode VII – might be among those headed to a galaxy far, far away…


Star Wars: Episode VII opens in U.S. theaters on December 18th, 2015.

Source: Variety

Follow Sandy Schaefer on Twitter @feynmanguy
TAGS: Star wars
Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. Yeah I can’t for J.J. Abrams to slap all sorts of lens flare across the stars wars universe. ;p

    • Might make up for it by just having a character called Lennz Flair instead.

      • HHAHAHA +1 internet for you sir!

        Would be amazing.

      • Darth Epilepsy….

      • Haha haha oh so funny. God, you guys crack me up. Moaning t•••s.

      • Does he have a Wookiee partner called Chewky Kam?

        • They team up with a bounty hunter named Plott Wholz.

          • Isn’t that they guy who has an affair with that Twi’lek dancer, Laicey Raitting?

    • I’m just gonna leave this here for you kids,, (seriously, jokes about Lens flare, get over it.)

      Simon Pegg on JJ Abrams Lens flare

      “It’s become a sort of communal stick to have a crack at JJ with, mostly by people who didn’t know what the f**k lens flare was, until someone started sneering the term all over their blog. It demonstrates JJ’s supreme talent as a film maker that the main means of knocking him is to magnify a throw away artistic choice, into some sort of hilarious failing.”

      On who first mentioned it?

      “Probably some film student who wanted to demonstrate his or her knowledge of film terminology, thus elevating themselves to an assumed level of critical superiority, which gave them the kind of smug, knowing smile that indicates a festering sour grape, fizzing in the pit of their own ambition.” SIMON PEGG

      • You say that but I was commenting on it ironically. The only lens flare problem I had with JJ’s movies was in STID when it happened during conversations where the light sources shouldn’t really have given off the effect if it were actually happening with real flares.

        The words “get over yourself” apply here. Maybe you’re the sneering film school brat Pegg was talking about?

      • Meant to say “Yea I can’t for…” in my original post. But anyway, I like J.J. Abrams – was just having a little fun. Don’t take stuff so seriously.

        I am a big Star Wars fan and will be lined up for this no matter what, again…was just poking a little fun.

        • lol, I screwed it up again – sigh – meant to say “Yea, I can’t WAIT for…” Man its not my day…

      • I love lens flares. It was one of most beautiful aspects of 1970s and early 80s cinematography. Getting rid of them for the most part was a loss for cinematic aethetics.

        • Agreed. Also, anybody that makes fun of JJ for ADDING lens flare to Star Wars has clearly never watched Star Wars.

      • I so dislike Simon Pegg. He comes across remarkably arrogant.

        Here’s the thing about lens flare: technically, it’s a mistake. It draws attention that there is a camera there – hey, you’re watching a movie in other words.

        Because in certain light conditions it can look pretty, audiences didn’t seem to mind (because most movies are being filmed by relative “experts”).

        So it goes on and on and on. It’s automatic now. Lucas even did CGI lens flare in the first prequel episode. You can count on it now – like the wilhelm scream, and the universal telephone ringer.

        • I agree with you on the points you made after the one about not liking Simon Pegg.

        • Well, as far as intentional mistakes go: I take lens flares over teal/orange color grading any day. Lens flares add a certain brilliance to scenes with bright lights, a brightness that was present in the actual scene but that can’t be recreated in a theatere or on TV, because of the lack of dynamic range and the limit of maximum brightness of the displaying medium. That’s why that “mistake” actually enhances the viewing experience for me.

        • I don’t understand this blind love for Simon Pegg. I’m honestly shocked to see so many fellow internet dwellers always ready to suck his manhood whenever his name is mentioned. The man is an arrogant schmuck with no respect for anyone but himself and only feigns giving a damn to make himself seem likeable to his fans.

      • LOL, take it easy Simon! Talk about feeding the trolls.

    • I like the lens flare.

  2. Michael B. Jordan should totally be Lando’s son; however, it would be nice for the Star Wars universe to be represented by more than one black family.

    “Oh, there’s another black character? It must be Lando’s son!”

    • He could even be someone similar in personality to Lando but not related in any way. He could easily pull off that smooth Billy Dee Williams acting in either case.

      • Remember in the first Batman movies, when Billie Dee Williams was replaced by Tommy Lee Jones?

        Imagine the outrage if that happened again….

        • Hahahaha….

          And Starring Tommy Lee Jones as Lando Calrissian.

          I need to see that done as a sketch on SNL stat.

    • What about other races?

    • I think its Luke’s son they are up for.

  3. i have a hard time seeing someone like billy dee williams have a role in the movie….
    I saw him at a convention last year and he had a pretty hard time walking around with his cane. On the other hand, if all of the original leading role are returning i guess agility and so on won+t be a requirement.

    • Same with Peter Mayhew but hey, at least if Lando was in it, they could accomodate with a seated role.

    • He HAS to be cast. I mean, the guy destroyed the Death Star! It has to count for something…

    • I mean, I think he’s already sitting down for half his screen time in the OT as is.

  4. Abrams, cast Boyega! I´d like to see him as the missing son of Lando and Leia.

  5. Not a bad casting list, it’s not like we need Oscar winners. Ed Speelers was pretty bad in Eragon, but he was quite good in Downton Abbey. So I guess it evens out. But not everyone will be satisfied.

    • Because it is not always the actor’s fault that his performance sucks. A bad director can cause a good actor to deliver a bad performance, and vice versa.

      • Yeah, just look at the prequel trilogy. Lucas made Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, and Natalie Portman all look like bad actors when they’re all immensely talented. Even Hayden Christiansen isn’t THAT bad of an actor.

  6. you know what would be amazing? an ASIAN young male lead.

    • Glen from The Walking Dead could be great in a Star Wars film, as a pilot or Jedi.

      • Great idea! The fact is, no one will be satisfied completely. If they’ve got a thrilling story with Han, Leia and Luke as leads, I’m in.

        • that fact is, asians would love to see themselves on the big screen just like all ethnic people do AND especially in a celebrated sci-fi franchise. seeing diverse people in media boosts confidence, self-worth, and identity in children, gets them to dream bigger, and creates opportunities for them to be in the film processes. then a new generation of bright and talented minds flourish.

    • I was gonna say the same thing. Heck, why not mix it up even more and have a middle-eastern one? They don’t get much representation in Hollywood these days.

      Well, technically that’s Asian too but you know what I mean.

    • Plenty of them in Asian cinema.

      • we’re talking international film.. shut up

  7. I’m with Jesse Plemons along with Stephanie Hunt casted also. Both was in Friday Night Lights.

  8. I want to see Lando’s ship, the Lady Luck. And that still with him and Boba Fett just serves to remind how great The Empire Strikes Back was.

  9. Part of me can’t wait to see the next Star Wars film, but another part of me doesn’t want to because with all the movies of this kind of adventure/sci-fi genre release lately they are all too fast paced and don’t have the Charm (?) that the old ones did.

  10. All good news to me, they all seem like good actors (which is the main thing of course) and no sign of Zac Efron or Shia Lebouf on this short-list, so happy days.

    Gonna be an exciting few months finally getting to hear some solid news from this production and not just rumours, I can’t wait. A Star Wars movie with solid writers behind it, brilliant. It’s got a good and well capable director in JJ Abrams and I think we’ll be well up to the task and will do a great job. People will obviously moan about him but ya can’t please everyone, but seriously,, lens flare jokes are getting a bit old now,

    Just can’t believe I’m gonna get to see Han Solo in another Star Wars movie, can’t wait

  11. Sorry. Not interested in cash grab movies.

    • @Fred

      Can you explain to me what in your opinion a cash grab movie actually is? (not being smart, genuinely curious) It’s just I’m pretty sure it’s the goal of every movie to try and make money. Well especially action/adventure blockbusters anyway, ever since Jaws came out in 75, making money has basically been a blockbusters only goal. (and of course that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all bad)

      If big budget Sci/fi movies ain’t your thing and you prefer indie art house films then thats fair enough, but why then would you be reading (and commenting on) a Star Wars casting article on ScreenRant?

      • Big budget films can be created with serious artistic intent; Cloud Atlas and Gravity being two recent examples. As far as I can tell RotJ is really the logical conclusion to the saga, bringing all of the major plot lines to a close and these new movies just exist to meet the demand for more Star Wars.

        • I don’t know, I’ve always been curious about what happened with the power vacuum, and how the Jedis would continue to develop, and if there were other Sith out there or anyone else who embraced the dark side.

          So yeah, I think the saga could stand some continuing :)

          • All of that was explained in several novels, comics and games which explained the continuation perfectly, but a Simon Pegg and movie-only loving fanboy who’s probably never picked up a book in his life wouldn’t know that would he?

    • Then why comment? Why click on the article? Clearly you do care.

      • Hey, just dropping in to comment and let you guys know that I don’t care about this at all. Almost enough to ignore it entirely, but just barely enough to absentmindedly comment explaining just how little I care.

  12. Plemons and Speleers.

    • …and bears. Oh my!

  13. Will be interesting to see how this plays out. I have a feeling this could be a big disaster movie but we’ll see.

  14. Im OK with the shortlist of actors.. Abrams did an excellent job with his Star Trek cast. Here’s hoping he can pull off the same magic for Episode 7. Once again, great comprehensive article Screenrant

  15. When are they going to cast Jar Jar?

    • He was last seen at DisneyWorld, taking photos with kids in front of Star Tours ride.

  16. I truly hope Plemmons doesn’t get this role. He just didn’t show enough range on Breaking Bad for me to endorse him. I don’t even think he looks like Luke. Hoping it’s actually one of the theater actors. That’s the old way Star Wars brought a ton of talent, even to the random roles. A lot of those British guys or imperials were stage actors, but I like the idea of anonymity for the non-Luke,Leia, Han roles.

  17. Wow.

    Cast overload. Sure hope they can balance it all out.

    I am fairly sure that the prequels didn’t have this many actors listed in it, did it?

    Seems to me that the original 3 actors shouldn’t get most of the time, after all are they not trying to hand off the series to younger actors with a more than a little bit of life left in them?

    Harrison, Hamill and Fisher are great actors, but they are not exactly actors that Hollywood are begging for any more either.

    In all this, I sure hope they get the story right, if the story doesn’t make more sense than the prequels they will be flushing a great universe down a blackhole.

    • Natalie Portman
      Ewan McGregor
      Samuel L. Jackson
      Christopher Lee
      Liam Neeson

      There was WAY more high profile casting in the prequels than the OT. I’ve actually thought the casting rumors for this seemed really low profile, comparatively, which I appreciate.

  18. Billy Dee has to be involved. Not to have Lando is a slap in the face. He was in integral part of the films, yet for some reason, he’s treated a lot like a throw-away character. And the sad thing is, there are some racist people out there who can’t forgive him for betraying Han. God’s truth – I knew a person like that in college, and thought he was an absoulte lunatic.

    • What about Chewie at least he was in all 3 films!

  19. Re: Lens flare.

    I don’t mind it, but the problem with the ST movie was that he over-used the hell out of it. It was a running joke because EVERYONE, not just snotty film school students, noticed it and basically reacted with “wtf was that all about”?

    Same with CGI. I don’t mind it at all when it’s used intelligently, but then you have the Star Wars prequels that were basically Pixar movies with some live actors thrown in. Just, no.

  20. Please…Zack Efron?!?! Are they trying to kill our childhood??

    • Yes. Yes they are.

  21. if they cast a black male as the lead character star wars has been ruined goodbye star wars unreal the flaming liberals have to make black male character and white female of course

    • Couldn’t agree more, given Abrams background you just knew it would happen.