And just five days ahead of the unofficial Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with you, pun-ologists), Lucasfilm has finally announced the cast of "Star Wars: Episode VII."
On the official StarWars.com website, the cast was announced along with a picture of a meeting and reading. Expected returnees like Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), and even Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and Kenny Baker (R2-D2) are all there in the cast list, alongside even more newbies. Adam Driver, whose announcement was leaked months ago (as the villain of the film) is confirmed, as well as John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow. No roles were listed for any of the actors, though the original stars will reprise their roles.
"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," director J.J. Abrams said in the release. [Evolution of 'Star Wars': A Space Opera Timeline (Infographic)]
Going down the list of the new castmembers, both Driver and Isaac saw their stars rise in the last few years. Aside from appearing together in "Inside Llewyn Davis," which Isaac starred in and was nominated for multiple awards for, Driver, rumored for the role of the villain of "Star Wars: Episode VII" for a few months, has starred in HBO's Girls.
Boyega is still at an early point in his career, but starred in the grounded low-budget "Attack the Block" as one of several ordinary kids trying to fend off an alien invasion. Serkis is a genre heavyweight, having starred, thanks to his motion capture abilities, as Gollum in the "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" films, and as Caesar in the new Planet of the Apes films. Gleeson is also sharing screen time with Isaac in an upcoming film called "Ex Machina" (no, not the comic book), and was the elder Weasley brother Bill in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."
Max von Sydow is a veteran character actor with multiple genre and sci-fi/fantasy credits across over 150 roles and a 65-year acting career. Some notable films for Star Wars fans include "Flash Gordon," "Dune," "Conan the Barbarian," the voice of Vigo in "Ghostbusters II," "Minority Report," and more. He too shared screentime with Isaac, in 2010's Robin Hood. Daisy Ridley is a newcomer to film, with only a handful of guest star TV and short film credits to her name.
It should be noted, there are only two women and nine men (and two droids) in the cast announcement. Of course, with a large "space opera" ensemble, there will be many more cast along the way, and this doesn't preclude the possibility of more cameos for returnees to the franchise.
"Star Wars: Episode VII" is due in theaters Dec. 18, 2015, with a script by Abrams and original trilogy veteran Lawrence Kasdan.