Most of the cast members for Star Wars: Episode VII have been officially unveiled now, though there are reports of at least one more important role that will be filled in the near future. Meanwhile, unconfirmed details about exterior sets built for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII have emerged, along with an old familiar rumor about one of the film's main actors (which, if accurate, has significant implications for the overarching narrative of the third Star Wars cinematic trilogy).
According to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn, the second unit filming on Episode VII has already begun, ahead of principal photography getting started on sound stages in London. Whereas previous Star Wars movies filmed on location in Tunisia for scenes set on the planet of Tatooine, Abu Dhabi is reported to be serving as the desert-like world in Abrams' movie. As such, there aren't likely to be many (if any) additional photos leaked from the set, since production is reported to be taking place in a remote section of the country.
Security is also clamping down on the Abu Dhabi set for Episode VII ahead of shooting getting properly started there this week, though The National is claiming to have some details on what's being constructed for that portion of the movie's production. As always, best to take this following with a grain of salt, at the least:
Our sources also report that the sets are getting closer to completion, with a “whole world” having been built on an otherworldly salt lake at one location, a “shuttle-like” spacecraft, a large tower, a “big, centuries-old-looking market”, something the crew are reportedly referring to as the “alien house” and 10 to 15 “really fast buggies” powered by jet engines (landspeeders of Tatooine fame from the previous films, perhaps?)
We have also been told that two lorries of explosives have been brought to one of the sites under high security and that a blast crater has been created. So, it looks like the action in Abu Dhabi could be set to feature a major battle or spacecraft crash of some description.
Some fans have expressed concern about Episode VII revisiting the world of Tatooine, worrying it's a sign that Abrams' movie will be too focused on waxing nostalgic about the original Star Wars trilogy for its own good. The ongoing rumor is that while the initial Episode VII script draft penned by Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Catching Fire) was focused on the new generation of young characters, the screenplay credited to Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back) better allows the older cast members to pass the torch to their successors. If so, that choice could just as well help move the franchise forward (better than Arndt's approach), as it could be a hindrance to the series.
Similarly, when Lucasfilm announced that the old Star Wars Expanded Universe - which encompasses everything Star Wars-related outside of the previously-released six live-action films and the George Lucas-created Clone Wars TV series - is henceforth officially not canonical, the studio also indicated it is free to pick and choose to include old EU elements, as it sees fit. For better or worse, that leaves the door open for certain new characters in Episode VII to, in essence, be re-envisioned versions of EU characters, who've been given a different name (in addition to other distinguishing qualities).
POTENTIAL EPISODE VII SPOILERS AHEAD!
According to a new rumor reported by Jedi News, that will very much be the case with actor Adam Driver (Girls, Inside Llewyn Davis) - who, if these claims are accurate, is essentially going to be acting out the Jacen Solo/Darth Caedus storyline from the Star Wars EU literature, albeit as a differently-named character. (Short version: Jacen, son of Han and Leia, grows up to become a Jedi who eventually falls to the dark side.)
Sounds like Adam Driver is NOT going to play a villain...sort of. He will be playing the son of Han and Leia, and it seems he will be seduced to the Dark Side, and a main plot point for the movie will be their attempt to rescue him.
These claims are nothing that mind-blowing, seeing how Market Saw reported similar rumors months ago. Not to mention, we've speculated for a while now that casting Driver in Episode VII makes sense, based on the idea that his character will begin the film as a noble member of the Skywalker/Solo clan who, at least temporarily, is transformed into a Sith. Point being, for all we know this new report could just as well have been made up by someone playing the same deduction game as everyone else - as opposed to, additional confirmation about what we should expect in the new Star Wars movie trilogy.
That said: Episode VII cast member Daisy Ridley is, almost without doubt, playing Han and Leia's daughter, who was Jacen's twin sister Jaina in the old Star Wars EU. If the rumors about Driver are true, then it's not a stretch to assume that Ridley's character arc for the upcoming Star Wars film trilogy will include her attempt to bring her brother back from the Dark Side, similar to the Jaina/Jacen storyline from the EU literature. This could also account for those longtime rumors about Episode VII having a female protagonist (i.e. Ridley).
Frankly, we're down with that idea, since the Darth Caedus storyline is among the better old EU developments that fall in line with the timeline of events in Episode VII. It also leaves plenty of room for additional surprises that those familiar with the EU mythology might not expect, starting with the claim that Episode VII cast member Max von Sydow is playing an "ancient evil" - who may even be the one responsible for turning Driver's character to the dark side.
What do you think of these Episode VII rumors? Let us know in the comments section, below!
Star Wars: Episode VII opens in U.S. theaters on December 18th, 2015.