In terms of Star Wars marketing, Lucasfilm is exclusively focusing on this December's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but behind-the-scenes the studio has a full slate of projects to plan out. Following the saga's return during the 2015 holiday season, there will be at least 5 more movies set in a galaxy far, far away through 2020.
Walt Disney Pictures is wasting no time working to recoup the $4 billion price they paid for Lucasfilm. Less than two years after The Force Awakens kick starts the sequel trilogy, fans will be treated to Rian Johnson's currently untitled Star Wars: Episode VIII, which is set for a May 2017 release. The writer/director is busy with pre-production work, including assembling the movie's cast.
Recently, it was reported that Oscar-winner Benicio del Toro was in talks with Lucasfilm to portray the villain in the second installment of the new trilogy. While the actor is not officially on board just yet, he seems like he's on the right track to joining the franchise, if his comments to ET are any indication:
"I can’t tell you much about it but I think that it might happen. It looks like it’s gonna happen so I’m very excited. I can’t talk too much about it. The script is hard to get. They told me they’d cut my finger if I talk about it."
Should del Toro finalize a deal, he would be a very welcome addition to the Star Wars universe. Throughout his career, he has displayed his ability to portray a wide range of characters, including a few who could easily be described as menacing. It's easy to see how those qualities would fit into a Star Wars villain, since this series is well-known for iconic evildoers like Darth Vader and the Emperor. Seeing someone like del Toro sink his teeth into a role like that (whatever it is) should be very rewarding for moviegoers.
Unfortunately for fans, del Toro was (understandably) not permitted to elaborate on who his character might be, meaning his potential involvement will only cause another wave of Star Wars rumors and speculation. With so little information about the new films available, the possibilities are endless. Del Toro could be playing anything from a First Order officer to a member of the Knights of Ren (the group that Adam Driver's Kylo Ren belongs to). Production on Episode VIII won't begin until the first half of 2016, so answers are still a ways off.
Reports on the matter so far have indicated Del Toro's Episode VIII role is a key one, and there's nothing out there yet to suggest that has changed. What this means for Force Awakens baddies like General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) remains to be seen. If a thespian of del Toro's stature is coming along, someone may have to be bumped off to make room; such is the way of life for villains in the Star Wars universe.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Star Wars: Rogue One on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.