Now that the world has come to terms with the fact that there will be a Star Wars Episode 7 coming in 2015, who will be entrusted with its story and direction is the main question. George Lucas and producer Kathleen Kennedy have narrowed the list of possible directors to a select few, with familiarity and love for the existing series a priority. Considering how influential the original films have been for an entire generation(s) of filmmakers, the list is expected to carry some heavyweights.
But it looks like Ben Affleck won't be among them, as the praised director of Argo has refuted any claims that he's being considered, or is even interested in the job. While Affleck may not be chasing a role in the next chapter of the Star Wars film universe, a certain Disney villain - Loki himself, Tom Hiddleston - is taking the proposition very seriously. Perhaps Thor's misguided brother could become a good guy after all?
In all honesty, it's hard to get any sense of what Disney and Lucasfilm are thinking in terms of directors at this point. A short list may have been rumored, but nearly every fan-favorite or 'genre' filmmaker is being discussed as a potential franchise-overseer. Ben Affleck may not have always been a name that came to mind when 'young, new and qualified directors' were brought up, but times have changed (read our Argo review).
Unfortunately, Affleck isn't interested in the job, as he explained in an interview with MTV. Laughing off the suggestion, Affleck still maintained that he's one of many Hollywood filmmakers and actors looking forward to Episode 7, but will be enjoying the films as a moviegoer:
"I'd be too busy worrying about how the action figures would look for each character to direct the actual movie. I'd be like, 'Oh, we'll just reshoot the movie with the action figures.' It's very exciting that they're going to make more, I have to say. There might be purists who are opposed to it, who knows...but I think it's a very cool thing and I'm excited to go see the movie."
Affleck's comments may have been in jest, but he does hint at some of the unforeseeable challenges with giving a movie franchise to a director who is already incredibly invested from a fan standpoint. It's the exact reason that J.J. Abrams felt able to breathe new life into the Star Trek series and take it in a new direction - he wasn't a Trekkie beforehand. An unfamiliar director will be harder to find when the series in question is as iconic as Star Wars, but Affleck can obviously understand Abrams' name being tossed around by fans:
"J.J. would kill it. J.J. would crush it. He's spectacular, but he would be great at anything. There are a lot of good directors out there. Naturally I would be inclined to get somebody who's great at telling stories. You'll never be able to recapture the story that was the initial three, because it's just so legendary and iconic. I don't know, I'm glad I don't have that job. It's a tough decision to make."
We'd have to agree that Disney and Lucasfilm would do well to pursue a director who is praised foremost for storytelling rather than action, genre, or 'indie' mystique. We do know that Academy Award-winner Michael Arndt has already penned Episode 7 (and apparently drafted treatments of an entire trilogy as well). Luckily, Disney has supported Marvel's decisions to place their superhero films into the hands of a few directors who are no strangers to writing themselves. Hopefully the same priorities are at play here as well.
Of course, not everyone will have to be saddled with directing a potential trilogy of sequels in order to take part in whatever story Arndt has crafted. If it's too early to call a director for Episode 7, then it is far too early to discuss casting (and no, we're not talking about Han Solo or Darth Vader). But at least one actor Disney currently has at their disposal has already proven himself in the realm of gods and goddesses; would a role in the next Star Wars be the next logical step?
We're speaking of course of Tom Hiddleston, known to worldwide audiences as Thor's somewhat wrathful brother, Loki. Anyone who saw this summer's Avengers knows how strong an antagonist Hiddleston brought, and his role in the Marvel movie universe is set to grow even larger with the upcoming sequel, Thor: The Dark World. Could that experience as a villain audiences love to hate find a new home within the next franchise being developed by Disney?
Hiddleston responded to the question in an interview with DigitalSpy:
"Goodness, I hadn't thought of that. I mean, yeah, sure. I'm a HUGE fan, especially the first three...so absolutely, yeah. It would depend on the story and the character and things, but maybe people would associate me too closely with Loki. I hope not. Kathleen Kennedy is a filmmaker of such extraordinary experience and wisdom, and is one of the best producers I've ever, ever worked for. She just knows her way around the medium, and the art form and the industry. So I'd take it very seriously if they asked me."
We won't put the cart before the horse, but with Kathleen Kennedy having worked with Hiddleston on the WWI era War Horse, and his growing popularity among both fans and internally at Disney, this is one comment that seems justifiable in building some excitement. We wouldn't recommend taking this as anything but personal comments from Hiddleston, but there's no denying the fact that Disney is fond of the British actor, and with Loki's role in Marvel's 'Phase Three' still unknown, it's possible he has some free time approaching. Time that Disney would obviously rather see spent with them, than not.
Fans comparing a potential Star Wars role to the Avengers villain is a fair concern (even if Loki's villainous ways might be changing come Thor 2), yet there's nothing that says Hiddleston would be courted for the role of antagonist in Episode 7. If the films do decide to follow a new generation of Solos or Skywalkers, then seeing an actor as acclaimed and recognizable as Hiddleston cast would do much to stall the inevitable comparisons and backlash.
Most of all, the two qualities Hiddleston claims informed his performance as Loki - looking for depth in a character that could have been seen as flat, and taking his role one step at a time without thinking of the 'franchise' - would be just as important for the main characters in Episode 7.
What do you think of Hiddleston for a potential role in Star Wars Episode 7? Does it seem to be a case of dream casting, or too far-fetched to believe? Sound off in the comments.
Star Wars Episode 7 is set for release in 2015.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
Sources: MTV, Digital Spy