'Star Wars: Episode VII' Cast Announced

With the first table read of the script for Star Wars: Episode VII arrives the long-awaited official announcement of the cast for director J.J. Abrams' film.

In a brief statement posted this morning on StarWars.com, Lucasfilm revealed that John Boyega (Attack the Block), Daisy Ridley (Silent Witness), Adam Driver (Girls), Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Domhnall Gleeson (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) and Max von Sydow will join returning franchise stars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker. However, no roles were specified for the new additions.

"We are so excited to finally share the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII," Abrams said in a statement. "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."

Interestingly, neither franchise creator George Lucas nor Michael Arndt, who wrote the original screenplay for Episode VII, is mentioned in the announcement.

Driver had been rumored for a role in the film since at least January, and tipped as "the" villain the following month; Boyega, meanwhile, emerged just last month as a reported contender to play the central part of a Jedi apprentice. But Isaac was mentioned only last night, and the other franchise newcomers -- to the best of my knowledge -- not at all. However, Star Wars has a history of mixing lesser-known talents with veteran actors, and it's easy to see someone like von Sydow continuing the tradition established by Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

The return of the franchise's original stars is no surprise, as the involvement of Ford, Fisher and Hamill was all but confirmed a year ago, even if the actors did their best to avoid acknowledging as much; Mayhew's participation was tipped earlier this month when his convention schedule suddenly changed. And while there was relatively little speculation about Daniels and Baker, it seemed unlikely a Star Wars film would be made without them.

Based on a screenplay by Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, Star Wars: Episode VII opens Dec. 18, 2015.

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