When Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, they did so with the additional annoucement that the studio would revive George Lucas’ beloved Star Wars franchise. The original film kicked things off in 1977 and was followed by two sequels that comprise the original trilogy. Then, Lucas returned to the franchise in the late ’90s/early ’00s for the prequel trilogy that wasn’t quite as well received as the original three films. However, when J.J. Abrams and Disney revived the franchise in 2015 with Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, the positive responses and massive box office haul proved there was still plenty of interest in the galaxy far, far away.
Late last year, Disney released the first standalone film set within the Star Wars cinematic franchise with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – which, while not as successful as The Force Awakens, proved the sci-fi franchise could still do well with audiences even removed from the Skywalker Saga. Next, Disney and Lucasfilm will release Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, with a second standalone film set to debut in 2018: Han Solo. Now, with casting currently underway for the Han Solo prequel movie, another actress may potentially join the project.
Variety is reporting Thandie Newton, who co-starred in the first season of HBO’s Westworld, is in talks for an unspecified role. If cast, she would join those already signed on for the project, including Alden Ehrenreich as the young Han Solo himself, Donald Glover as a young Lando Calrissian, Emilia Clarke in the female lead, and Woody Harrelson as Han’s mentor (with the theory being he’s Garris Shrike). Most recently, the studio was reportedly in talks with Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge for a key CGI role.
Newton is a veteran of the action/adventure genre, having appeared in Mission: Impossible II, The Chronicles of Riddick, and 2012, but has moved to TV dramas in recent years – with her turn as the android-given-consciousness Maeve Millay in Westworld receiving a great deal of critical praise. It’s unclear what role Newton will play in the Han Solo film, but it was previously reported Lucasfilm was seeking a non-white actress for a lead role. Presumably, that role went to Clarke, but with neither Clarke nor Newton’s characters having been revealed just yet, the Westworld actress might be in talks for a sizable part.
Of course, we may not learn exactly how Clarke or Newton – that is, if the latter officially signs on to the project – fit into the narrative of a young Han Solo movie for some time. We do know that Han’s best friend/sidekick Chewbacca will appear, and the film has been compared to a “heist or western” by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. Star Wars franchise veteran Lawrence Kasdan penned the Han Solo script along with his son Jon Kasdan, so the beloved smuggler originally played by Harrison Ford is seemingly in good hands.
Recently, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street, The LEGO Movie) announced filming had begun on Han Solo at the end of January. With production underway for the movie’s summer 2018 debut – though there is a rumor Disney may delay its release to December 2018 – it’s possible we’ll learn more about the cast soon. But, given how close to the vest Disney and Lucasfilm have kept Star Wars information, it may be some time before detailed character breakdowns are revealed.