April 29th, Pinewood Studios, UK – Writer/Director/Producer J.J Abrams (top center right) at the cast read-through of Star Wars Episode VII at Pinewood Studios with (clockwise from right) Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Producer Bryan Burk, Lucasfilm President and Producer Kathleen Kennedy, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver and Writer Lawrence Kasdan. Copyright and Photo Credit: David James.
The Star Wars team is thrilled to announce the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII.
Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the new film.
Director J.J. Abrams says, “We are so excited to finally share the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again. We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud.”
Star Wars: Episode VII is being directed by J.J. Abrams from a screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and Abrams. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, and John Williams returns as the composer. The movie opens worldwide on December 18, 2015.
The actor, who played the Wookiee in the original trilogy, will reprise his role in Disney and Lucasfilm’s sequel.
The trio of new leads for Star Wars: Episode VII has yet to be revealed, but an actor from the original franchise is returning to reprise his role.
Peter Mayhew will play Chewbacca for Disney and Lucasfilm’s upcoming sequel, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.Mayhew played the legendary Wookiee and Han Solo’s co-pilot in the original trilogy, beginning with Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope in 1977. Rumors recently surfaced that he was reprising his role after he canceled an upcoming appearance at Texas convention Comicpalooza “due to filming.” Since the convention takes place May 23-26, many fans wondered if that meant the actor would be busy with Episode VII.
Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn revealed on April 2 that the new Star Wars had already begun filming and most of the cast was set. “We have a lot of them [in place],” he said about the main actors, whose names have not been disclosed. “We’re just not completely done yet.”
Star Wars: Episode VII, to be directed by J.J. Abrams and slated to hit theaters Dec. 18, 2015, has been shrouded in a thick veil of secrecy, with dozens of names flying through the rumor mill for months now. THR reported that Adam Driver will be playing an undisclosed villain. Original stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher also are said to be reprising their roles.
In March, Walt Disney CEO Bob Igersaid the new project would begin filming in May and will be set 30 years after the events in 1983’s Return of the Jedi. “There will be some very familiar faces along with a trio of new young leads,” he said during Disney’s annual shareholder’s meeting in Portland, Ore.
Mayhew, who also played Chewbacca in prequel film Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, has mainly spent his career playing the iconic character, but also appeared in the horror film Terror and did voice work in the British version of Dragon Ball GT: A Hero’s Legacy.
Out of this world: (from left) director/writer J.J. Abrams, builders Lee Towersey
and Oliver Steeples, and Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy.
Photo: Twitter: bad_robot
The first installment of the third trilogy of Star Wars films will start shooting in London in May, Disney has announced.
Production on the highly anticipated Star Wars sequel – presently known only as Star Wars, Episode VII – will kick off in May.
Disney chief Bob Iger revealed the shooting date at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Portland, Oregon.
Although his audience was composed primarily of shareholders, very few of whom are likely to be declared Star Wars geeks, he also threw a few more choice morsels their way.
The film, Iger revealed, would pick up the story 30 years after the events depicted in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
In that film, which was released in 1983, the rebel alliance destroyed the second Death Star space station and, with the death of Emperor Palpatine, effectively toppled the Galactic Empire.
In the fourth, fifth and sixth chapters of the film, A New Hope (1977), The Empire Strike Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), producer George Lucas chronicled the struggle between the rebel alliance, led by Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and the tyrannical Empire.
Lucas subsequently produced the early history of the saga, the so-called “prequels”, The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005), which examined the collapse of the Galactic Republic, the fall of the Jedi Knights and the rise of the Galactic Empire.
Iger said the seventh chapter would feature “familiar faces including a trio of young leads” but noted that the only official cast member is the “astromech droid” R2-D2.
Lucas has previously said the only characters he wanted to span across the trilogies were R2-D2 and his counterpart, the “protocol droid” C3-P0.
There is intense speculation, however, that the three stars of the original trilogy – Hamill, Ford and Fisher – will reprise their characters in the new film.
Iger told shareholders that the movie “really looks amazing,” though presumably he was referring to pre-production material as principal photography has not yet commenced.
The film will be directed by J.J. Abrams and written by Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan.
Kasdan was co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and the much-loved George Lucas/Steven Spielberg collaboration Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Disney purchased LucasFilm, which owns the Star Wars saga, in 2012 for $US4.05 ($4.48) billion. One of the most anticipated projects to come out of the acquisition is the prospect of a new Star Wars trilogy.
Lucas had, in the saga’s early life, flagged the possibility of a nine chapter story, but had later pared it back to six.
Star Wars: Episode VII is slated to open on December 18, 2015.
Source: Michael Idato, Star Wars 7 details emerge from Disney meeting, The Sydney Morning Herald, March 20, 2014, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/star-wars-7-details-emerge-from-disney-meeting-20140320-353ob.htm.
Yesterday’s “casting announcement” for Star Wars: Episode VII shouldn’t come as any shock to those who’ve keeping track of every single bread crumb that director J.J. Abrams – along with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy – has dropped for fans to snack on, in lieu of a proper meal (read: human casting news).
Nevertheless, Disney/Lucasfilm has deemed the news that plucky astromech droid R2-D2 will appear in Episode VII to be worthy of an official confirmation announcement, what with the robotic character – alongside his golden counterpart C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) – being one of the rare citizens of a galaxy far, far away to have shown up in all six of the previous live-action Star Wars movies (with Kenny Baker behind the wheel… er, under the dome, rather).
What’s far more interesting than this “reveal” is the story of the two gentlemen who have produced a fully-functioning R2 unit for Abrams’ film. The creative and talented men in question are Oliver Steeples and Lee Towersey, a pair of longtime Star Wars fanatics and members of the global R2-D2 Builders Club (Star Wars fans of the world unite!). Both of these fellows were featured in the first official Episode VII pre-production image that dropped online last week, along with Abrams, Kennedy and R2 himself at the Bad Robot studio’s workshop (appropriately enough).
Here is the official story of how Steeples and Towersey became official members of the Creature Effects team for Episode VII:
“It all started when Kathleen Kennedy toured the R2-D2 Builders area at Celebration Europe this past summer in Germany,” says Steeples, who finished his first R2-D2 in 2007, after 10 years of collecting parts and researching. “She posed for pictures with us, looked at all the droids we’d built and was very complimentary. I mentioned that the R2-D2 Builders in the UK were available if required, as a semi-joke. When I was contacted to work on the film by [executive producer] Jason McGatlin, it was on her recommendation.”
Steeples, from Berkshire, England, and Towersey, from Middlesex, England, are working full-time on Star Wars: Episode VII at Pinewood Studios (where the Twitter photo was taken), focusing solely on astromech-building — for now. Keeping an astromech droid in working condition throughout the production of a film is a challenge, as it’s filled with gears, lights, and electronics; Steeples and Towersey were chosen because of their expertise and experience, both having worked on Star Wars-themed commercials for the UK appliances megastore Curry’s. “We know the pressures of filming, prepping, and being able to assure reliability throughout the shoot,” says Towersey, who built the droid seen in the tweet. “We have a good knowledge of Artoo, with a large stock of parts for reference and drawings, plus we know what is involved throughout the whole building process, as well as potential problems we need to avoid.” Despite their impressive understanding of how to construct an astromech droid and keep it functioning, Steeples and Towersey still have a goal for Star Wars: Episode VII: to build a better R2-D2.
You have to give Kennedy and the other Episode VII producers credit, they have put together an impressive crew of craftsmen and filmmakers who grew up loving George Lucas’ space opera. That includes self-admitted Star Wars lover Abrams – whose visual approach on the rebooted Star Trek franchise reflects that influence – and co-screenwriter Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3). Of course, Abrams is also collaborating on the Episode VII script now with a celebrated alum of the franchise, in the form of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi scribe Lawrence Kasdan.
Does this guarantee that Episode VII will have the same wondrous spirit that made the original Star Wars movie a delightful celebration of genre, more than thirty years ago (or even the dramatic complexity of later installments)? No, but so far it’s reason enough for us (or me, at the least) to stay optimistic about the future of this series.
Star Wars: Episode VII opens in theaters on December 18th, 2015.