Fans of all things Star Wars are counting the seconds until director J.J. Abrams' highly anticipated Episode VII: The Force Awakens finally his theaters this December. Meanwhile, Disney and Lucasfilm have been mapping out their long-term plans for the franchise. The first standalone "Anthology" entry - Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One - will be released in 2016, with Felicity Jones set to star.
Directed by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) and written by Gary Whitta (After Earth) and Chris Weitz (Cinderella), plot details and a description of the teaser trailer were released during Star Wars Celebration this past April which place the events of Rogue One between The Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope (but closer to the latter).
Aside from Jones - whose character is still unknown - the rest of the main cast remained unconfirmed. However, as of last month we seemed to have the other stars nailed down: Diego Luna (Elysium) and Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler) were seemingly aboard, and after a few months of denials, Bloodline star Ben Mendelsohn was said to have finally signed on to play the film's main villain. Or had he?
Well… I know that it’s something that’s being talked about. That’s what I definitely know. I’m waiting for them to call me and say, “Hey, here’s the start date,” but you know, none of that’s yet taken place, but you know I’d be very happy to do it, let’s put it that way.
A report from Variety in May stated that Mendelsohn was "set to star as the film's primary villain," but these remarks from the actor suggest otherwise. Still, Mendelsohn finally acknowledges that he's in the running for a role, since he previously refused to even confirm that much. It sounds like his deal is still being hammered out between his representation and the studio.
This apparent disconnect could also be a sign of trouble behind the scenes, given that production is supposed to start this summer and Mendelsohn's participation has yet to be sealed. Disney and Lucasfilm have so far released no statements about any of this, and with the Variety report going unconfirmed, we can infer that someone jumped the gun on reporting Mendelsohn's involvement.
Mendelsohn's turn in the critically acclaimed Netflix drama Bloodline placed him on the mainstream radar and his role as the oily corporate villain John Daggett in The Dark Knight Rises gives him the requisite geek cred to make the idea of him joining the Star Wars universe as an antagonist something to look forward to. Now that he has at least confirmed to be in talks for a role, we can probably expect some kind of solid outcome soon.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens releases in theaters December 18, 2015. Star Wars: Rogue One releases in theaters December 16, 2016.