Guillermo del Toro's 2013 tale of human-piloted Mechs squaring up against a horde of Kaiju was both a commercial and critical success, becoming Del Toro's most profitable movie in the process. As such, a sequel, Pacific Rim: Maelstrom, was soon put into development - though the project has since experienced a number of unfortunate delays getting off the ground. With production seemingly now in full swing however, fans are beginning to get a picture of what may be in store for the second installment.
As the cast starts to assemble, names such as Scott Eastwood (Suicide Squad), John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Attack The Block) - who is confirmed to be playing the son of Idris Elba's character from the first film - and the expected return of Ron Perlman (Hellboy) have heightened the sequel's buzz. The latest addition to the cast may prompt a more mixed response though, simply because many Pacific Rim fans won't know who they are.
As reported by Variety, singer and popstar Cailee Spaeny has landed the lead female role in Pacific Rim: Maelstrom, a gig which will be by far her most high-profile yet in a short screen career. Spaeny is perhaps best known for her online singing videos on YouTube and Vimeo - and after receiving acclaim from the online community, she has played a number of live shows in the U.S. Spaeny recently released her single, "Fallin".
It now appears that the vocalist is looking to make moves in the world of acting; this year, Cailee has worked on indie flicks Counting To 1000 and The Shoes. Clearly, Pacific Rim: Malestrom represents a huge step up for the youngster and although very little is known about Spaeny's character and the sequel's plot in general, the casting decision is sure to thrust the singer into the spotlight.
Whilst casting any unknown, inexperienced actor or actress in a lead role always holds some degree of risk, fans will hopefully reserve judgement on her casting until the film is released. Of course, some sections of the science fiction fandom have a skeptical reflex when it comes to casting unproven popstars in movies and there are examples of both spectacular success and stunning failure when it comes to switching from the stage to the screen. When British popstar Billie Piper was cast in the iconic sci-fi series Doctor Who for example, the fandom reacted with almost universal disdain; however, Piper's character, Rose Tyler, soon became a fan-favorite. On the other side of the spectrum, Rihanna's turn in the humans vs. aliens flick Battleship was best forgotten (though Pacific Rim: Maelstrom should easily prove to be better than that film).
Whether this risky casting choice will prove to be fruitful or foolish can only be judged after the movie's 2018 release. With a talented cast around her and del Toro on production duties (Daredevil season 1 showrunner Steven S. DeKnight is directing this time around), Spaeny will have a great team of talented, experienced people to help bring out her best performance. Not to mention, her costar John Boyega may know a thing or two about being thrust into the spotlight thanks to a single film.
Pacific Rim: Malestrom is set to arrive in U.S. theaters on February 23, 2018.