Arguably, there has never been a more exciting time to be a Star Wars fan than right now. In just under a month (as of this writing), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will open in theaters, and next year’s Star Wars: Episode VIII is currently in post-production. If that weren’t enough to send moviegoers into a frenzy, Phil Lord and Chris Miller are hard at work on pre-production for the young Han Solo anthology film, with Alden Ehrenreich set to take over the role of the scruffy-looking nerf herder. The plan is for them to start rolling the cameras in January 2017, ahead of the movie’s May 2018 premiere.
Casting, of course, has been a top priority for the filmmakers. Recently, fan-favorite Donald Glover came on board to play Lando Calrissian, but there are plenty more roles to be filled. Rumors have been swirling about who could play Han Solo‘s female lead, with names like Tessa Thompson and Zoe Kravitz allegedly being considered. Now, that part may be filled, as Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke is set to enter the galaxy far, far away.
Per an announcement from Disney, Clarke has officially joined the cast of Han Solo. In typical Lucasfilm fashion, her role is being kept under wraps for now. The only information revealed is that she will “round out a dynamic cast of characters Han and Chewie will encounter on their adventures.”
Those who have been following the development of the project might recall that at one point, Lucasfilm was reportedly looking for a non-white actress for the female lead in Han Solo, but that seems to have changed now. It’s unlikely Disney would bring in a big-name talent like Clarke for a small supporting role, meaning that her mystery character probably factors heavily into the narrative. That may be disappointing for some who were hoping Han Solo continued the franchise’s committment to diversifying Hollywood tentpoles, but what matters most is finding the right fit for the part. Clarke obviously made an impression on Lord and Miller in her audition, and it will be interesting to learn who she plays. Odds are, it’s a completely new character given Han Solo‘s place in the canon timeline (i.e. she’s probably not young Princess Leia).
Viewers will also be curious to see if Clarke signed to a multi-picture deal. The speculation is that Ehrenreich is locked down for a trilogy of films, so it’s plausible that some of his co-stars will be along for any potential sequels as well. Regardless of how long Clarke’s stay in the galaxy is, she should prove to be a valuable addition to Star Wars. She’s made a name for herself as Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones, earning three Emmy nominations in the process, and has demonstrated an ability to carry a feature film with her turns in Terminator: Genisys and Me Before You. With Thrones ending after its eighth season, Clarke will have an open schedule – and she might have found a steady job to replace the Mother of Dragons.