One of the downsides of being a famous actor with legions of adoring fans is constantly being badgered regarding rumors of roles in every major upcoming franchise. As far as hardships go it’s pretty mild, but it probably gets pretty grating for an actor like Benedict Cumberbatch, whose name seems to crop up constantly in casting talk.
Since production on Star Trek Into Darkness began before the acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney, and the subsequent announcement that J.J. Abrams would direct Star Wars: Episode VII, Cumberbatch couldn’t have known what he was letting himself in for by playing a major role in an Abrams sci-fi blockbuster. Rumors and speculation about which actors will star in the new Star Wars trilogy have been flying thick and fast, and Cumberbatch has been among the names that have cropped up most persistently.
Last year, when Hollywood gossip pointed to Cumberbatch playing a villain role – potentially a Sith warrior – in Star Wars: Episode VII, the actor denied the rumors, stating that although he would “love to work with [Abrams] again,” he had not been offered a role, adding, “That is that. And that is that.” That, of course, wasn’t that. Rumors of his involvement have continued to bubble up since then, but The Iris AU reports that Cumberbatch has now repeated his denial during a Q&A at Oz Comic-Con.
Given that Abrams is renowned for secrecy when it comes to his upcoming films (even if some of those secrets are very poorly kept), this statement hasn’t dissuaded the most ardent conspiracy theorists from the belief that the director has cooked up a special role for Cumberbatch in the Star Wars universe. His original denial that he would be playing Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness probably doesn’t help matters. Rumors of his involvement – even if it’s just a cameo – will likely continue right up until Star Wars: Episode VII hits theaters, and after that there are still the sequels for those who really want to hold out hope. However, at this point it looks like Cumberbatch is telling the truth.
Abrams has only directed a small handful of feature films so far, but unlike other filmmakers he doesn’t have a habit of casting the same actors over and over again. Simon Pegg is the exception to this rule, having played significant roles in both Mission Impossible III and the Star Trek franchise, but generally speaking Abrams seems to prefer finding fresh faces. With that in mind, there’s really no reason to believe that Cumberbatch having played a major role in Star Trek Into Darkness guarantees him another major role in Star Wars: Episode VII. If anything, the opposite is probably true.
There’s also the strength of the rumors themselves to be considered. So far all of the buzz surrounding Cumberbatch’s potential involvement can be traced back to blogs which cite either unnamed sources or just general gossip. There’s been nothing concrete so far and the frequency of new rumors seems to have tapered off significantly since the film’s early development days.
Cumberbatch has previously expressed an enthusiasm for the Star Wars franchise, but with filming set to get into full swing a month from now and official casting announcements surely on the way soon, it’s probably best to take his denial at face value and just move on.
Star Wars: Episode VII will release on December 18th, 2015.