Earlier today, we reported that Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) is rumored to play the female lead in the 2016 Star Wars movie spinoff - a project being directed by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla (2014)) and currently getting a script revision by Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass, Cinderella (2015)) - after having recently tested for the feature.
Well... it looks like the Maslany rumor wasn't correct after all. Reports are flooding in that Felicity Jones - also reported to be among the people who tested for Edwards' Star Wars movie last week - has now emerged as the front-runner for the lead role in question. Jones received her first Oscar-nomination this year for her role as Stephen Hawking's wife in the Best Picture contender The Theory of Everything and last year played a small role (as "Felicia") in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
THR is among the news sites that are reporting on Jones being in negotiations to play the female lead in the 2016 Star Wars spinoff. Furthermore, the site reports that Édgar Ramírez (Deliver Us From Evil) and Breaking Bad alum Aaron Paul are both on the shortlist of actors being eyed as possibilities to play the male lead in the film. Paul has been linked to the 2016 Star Wars spinoff recently as rumor has it he's being eyed to play a young(er) version of Han Solo in the movie.
The film's plot, meanwhile, is rumored to revolve around bounty hunters who are recruited to steal the plans to the original Death Star. However, as of the time of writing this, no official details have been revealed about either the film's storyline nor the characters that it will involve - other than it and all of the future Star Wars movie spinoffs will be focusing on "great Star Wars characters that are not part of the overall saga," according to Disney CEO Bob Iger.
Jones, Paul, and Ramirez are all well-respected character actors who've been verging on achieving stardom in recent years, so their names keep coming up in discussions about upcoming studio tentpoles. However, seeing as certain of those same projects - like Sinister Six (rumored to include Jones as Black Cat) and The Dark Tower (which Paul was approached for) - might either be on hold or indefinitely delayed right now, it's not surprising to see their names pop up here instead.
The recent Maslany rumors had suggested that the female lead in Edwards' spinoff could be Sabine - the Mandalorian-armored, artistically-inclined, warrior introduced in the animated TV show Star Wars Rebels - and for all we know, that might still be accurate, just with Jones taking on the role instead of Maslany. The inclusion of Sabine would fit with Disney and Lucasfilm's plan for a synergistic approach to the Star Wars franchise moving forward, but it's not a given all the same.
As for Ramirez (who stars in the Point Break remake later this year), if he's also on the shortlist for the 2016 Star Wars spinoff's male lead, then it seems safe to assume that the character in question is not Han Solo after all. Then again, Ramirez and Paul might well be under consideration for different roles, so best to not rule Paul playing a younger version of Harrison Ford's space smuggler just yet.
Production on Edwards' movie begins this spring in London, so answers to at least some of these question should be coming sooner than later. In the meantime, feel free and weigh in with your theories about what the first Star Wars movie spinoff will be about - and/or who the aforementioned actors could end up playing in a galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens opens in theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by the first spinoff on December 16th, 2016.