"Star Wars" indeed. The battle for the lead role in "Star Wars: Episode VII," the next film in the famous franchise, is heating up, according to a Variety report naming five young actors as top contenders.
Disney and Lucasfilm are considering Ed Speleers of "Downton Abbey," John Boyega of "Attack the Block," Jesse Plemons of "Breaking Bad," and theater actors Matthew James Thomas and Ray Fisher to play the lead role of a Jedi apprentice, the report says.
None of the actors mentioned is a household name, and Disney is mum on the news, so it's hard to say how serious the talks have been, but given the immense popularity of all things "Star Wars," the coveted role could propel any of them to stardom.
The filmmakers are said to be mulling whether to cast a nonwhite actor in the role. Boyega and Fisher are black, as are David Oyelowo and Michael B. Jordan, who tested early on. Director J.J. Abrams has said he wants a diverse cast.
Abrams will direct the highly anticipated sequel, slated for release Dec. 18, 2015, from a script by him and Lawrence Kasdan, after the two took over writing duties from Oscar winner Michael Arndt. While Arndt's original draft reportedly focused on the children of Han Solo and Princess Leia, the latest version is said to shift those characters into supporting roles.
In February, reports surfaced that Adam Driver of the HBO series "Girls" had been cast as the main villain in "Star Wars: Episode VII," making him the first major cast member to be revealed.
The film is also expected to include many recognizable stars in supporting parts, including "Star Wars" veterans Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher.
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