Autumn is going to be a great time for Star Wars news, I can feel it. There hasn’t been any movement on the new trailer front, but things are happening and the smokescreen of The Force Awakens means we’re still arguing over what the names of the actual characters are. As for what we know about any further Saga movies...even less!
One of the few dispatches we got from Episode VIII was a report that there was a short-list for a female lead in Rian Johnson’s sequel which included Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin), Golden Globe nominee Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl star Olivia Cooke.
Let’s add TWO new pieces of information to that report.
We’ve heard that it is not one role, but TWO female roles, both substantial, that share the same shortlist.
Not only that, but can report there’s a fourth name on that short list that wasn’t reported and an important one: British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Apparently she’s had an audition and everything. Mbatha-Raw starred in Beyond the Lights as the lead, she then went on to star in the Wachowskis Jupiter Ascending. She will star opposite Will Smith in Peter Landesman's Concussion.
At this time, CAA who reps the actress and Disney did not wish to comment.
At this point, it’s unclear what either of these roles are, and even informed speculation might not do any good this far out. I’m still not sure we know who the core three players in The Force Awakens really are and that movie comes out December 18th.
Cinelex.com has reported that Finn isn’t so much Finn’s name as what he uses to represent the only name he knows: his designation. He’s “Finn” because he is FN-2187 and FN can be turned into “Finn” when he needs a name after defecting. According to the rumor, Finn doesn’t remember his actual name since he’s been trained as a First Order trooper. There’s also some stuff in that post about Stormtroopers all having some lightsaber training, but it’s vague and I’m not sure how much the film or anything is going to get into the specifics of why Finn is able to fight Kylo Ren using Luke’s lightsaber. You don’t have to be a Force user to wield a lightsaber, you just have to be a Force user to do the really cool stuff with a lightsaber, like charging at entire droid armies while deflecting all the blaster bolts (man, the Clone Wars period was over-powered).
Anywho, on the other side of our unnamed heroes is Rey, whom everyone is pretty sure is not actually named “Rey” at this point. She’s most certainly going to end up being the hero that has to reckon with the Force in this new trilogy. Rey was left or placed on Jakku for some reason (this will probably serve as an echo of Luke’s story on Tatooine, so maybe her parents left her there for safety after whatever she witnesses in the flashback part of the movie). We’ve been assuming that Kylo Ren is Han Solo’s kid because their eventual showdown in the film would be that much more dramatic, and there have been rumors of Rey and Kylo Ren both appearing in the Maz Kanata flashback, so it’s possible they are siblings.
Recently, Kathleen Kennedy was talking to Costco Connection (of all places) and was asked what the difference between the main through-line of movies (the “Episodes”) and the Star Wars Story spin-offs (the “anthology films”) and answered: "The Saga films focus on the Skywalker family saga. The stories follow a linear narrative that connects to the previous six films. The Force Awakens follows Return of the Jedi and continues that generational story. The Anthology films offer opportunities to explore fresh characters, new storylines and a variety of genres inside the Star Wars universe."
If the end of The Force Awakens includes Luke training Rey (Kira) to be the Jedi she needs to be, then it appears that Rey is a Skywalker child. All the possible avenues that opens up are: Rey and Kylo are sibling children of Han and Leia, Kylo is Han and Leia’s son and Rey is Luke’s daughter by an unknown character, Kylo is Han and Leia’s son and Rey is simply a Force sensitive Jedi that is his counterpart, Rey is Leia’s daughter and Kylo is Han’s son and the two weren’t always together, Kylo is Luke’s son and Rey is Leia and Han’s daughter, etc.
It seems unlikely to me that Han and Leia didn’t end up being romantically linked for long enough to have a child or some children and I’m not sure Jedi have kids, even if he is the last Jedi. All of that is rooted in feeling like the prequel trilogy gave so much screen time to Luke and Leia’s parents that embedding a new parent into the sequel trilogy seems like a shaky place to put the narrative.
We discussed in this column way back when that the rumored disagreement between JJ Abrams and Michael Ardnt, who wrote an early draft of Episode VII was that Abrams didn’t want to focus so directly on the “Solo kids” (as we were calling them at the time). Since Abrams has spoken to wanting to answer the question of who Luke Skywalker is...which is odd because Luke apparently isn’t in this movie much.
The Force Awakens is going to have at least one new Skywalker in it, maybe two. But it’s not going to be super concerned with the same parentage questions we have, when we have them. For example, there’s a whole missing piece with my Kylo Ren is a Solo narrative, which is those spy photos of Adam Driver in an X-Wing uniform. No plot description I’ve heard has satisfactorily explained that to me and you’d think that one of these parents would notice their kid walking around emanating Dark Side vibes.
Knowing that the core films are about the Skywalker clan does make Episode VIII more immediately interesting. Who is Benicio Del Toro’s villain? Does Luke help Rey after she trains, or? Did Kylo Ren survive through the climax?
Will Episode VIII introduce yet another Skywalker into the mix, possibly a second female Skywalker child? If the next Saga movie is as secretive as The Force Awakens is, we may not know the answer until it hits theaters on May 26, 2017.