Production keeps on chugging along on J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII and despite the cameras rolling for months, we still know very little official information regarding the project (besides who the cast is). Everything from the film’s narrative to its subtitle is still closely under wraps (as is par for the course on an Abrams movie), which is making fans antsy for some confirmations, considering we’re a little over a year away from the sequel’s debut.
One thing we know for sure is that Episode VII is going to serve up a healthy dose of nostalgia, with original trilogy stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher returning to their iconic roles of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia, respectively. They’re being joined by a list of several talented newcomers and season fan-favorites (Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, etc.), but now we know of another OT actor who will be returning to the galaxy far, far away.
In an entertaining YouTube video (which you can view above), actor Warwick Davis – who played everyone’s favorite Ewok Wicket W. Warrick in Return of the Jedi – announces that he is now on board for next December’s installment. There’s no word on who Davis will be portraying, but that doesn’t seem to be any concern to him; he’s obviously very excited to be appearing in a Star Wars film again.
Fans shouldn’t take this as a sign that Ewoks will be popping up in Episode VII, however. Earlier rumors indicated that Abrams was embracing the pre-Jedi tone for the series (read: darker and more serious) that Star Wars and (especially) The Empire Strikes Back established when they were released. Including the adorable little fur balls (who were used as a merchandising tool for children) would seemingly contradict those reports.
It’s more likely that Davis will be playing an entirely new character this time around, which shouldn’t be all that continuity-shattering. After all, the actor was obscured by a costume during his appearance in Jedi and for his role as the Rodian slave Wald in The Phantom Menace (though he also made an out-of-costume cameo in that film). Davis is a familiar face for Star Wars fans, but not necessarily to the characters that inhabit the universe. And given that he’s joining the team so late in shooting, his part will probably amount to nothing more than a cameo.
While this bit of casting news should give longtime fans another thing to look forward to (though, Lando Calrissian supporters might be starting to get annoyed), it still doesn’t give us any of the meaty details we’ve been craving since Episode VII was first announced. As 2014 comes to a close, will we see or hear anything before the new year? Well, we just might. Maybe.
The Guardian examined the opening of a new United Kingdom-based studio for visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic (who will be doing the special effects work for the new Star Wars films), and in their article, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy revealed that Abrams is within “three weeks” of finishing principle photography on the new movie. Barring any unforeseen incidents, that means everything could be wrapped up by early November at the earliest.
A big budget spectacle like Episode VII is going to have one long post-production phase, as Abrams and his ILM team complete the extensive effects shots, but that doesn’t mean fans will be left in the dark until they’re 100 percent finished. Studios like to start promoting their tentpole pictures well in advance, with teaser trailers debuting a year from the film’s release in some instances.
The return of Star Wars is going to be a big deal for film buffs and casual audiences alike, and while the movie will essentially sell itself, Disney would like to start whetting everyone’s appetite as soon as possible. If production does conclude a few weeks from now, that makes it conceivable that the first trailer might be ready for the holiday season – maybe even attached to prints of the Mouse House’s anticipated upcoming winter holiday musical release, Into the Woods.
We have no way of knowing for sure if that’s the plan, but given the information available, there’s a fair chance that this will happen. Lucasfilm has never put out a Star Wars teaser so far in advance of its theatrical release, but now would be a good time to break tradition and give the fans what they want.
Star Wars: Episode VII will be in theaters December 18, 2015.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90.