By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist January 12, 2014 at 9:07AM
Is it any surprise that one of the biggest franchises on the planet is engaging some of the biggest stars in Hollywood? Ever since the Disney/Lucasfilm deal went down and J.J. Abrams started work on "Star Wars: Episode 7," there have been no shortage of names rumored for the project. Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael B. Jordan, Jack O’Connell, Alex Pettyfer, Saoirse Ronan, Sullivan Stapleton and, most recently, Jesse Plemons have all been said to be eyed or have read or been considered. But before all of them, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher were reported to be returning to reprise their turns as Luke, Han and Leia. And it seems they will be a crucial part of the new trilogy.
According to THR, the long running rumor that "Star Wars 7" will focus on the offspring of Luke, Han and Leia is true, but instead, the children will be in supporting roles, with the classic characters in the lead. The trade reveals that Abrams wants audiences to "have one more chance to enjoy them before a fitting send-off." This appears to be part of the reason why Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan took over writing duties on the sequel from Michael Arndt, with characters from the latter's draft reportedly excised, replaced and/or rewritten given the new focus of the sequel. (Among the changes: Obi-Wan Kenobi now apparently has a daughter or granddaughter; Tye Sheridan read to play a young character that is now no longer part of the film.)
It's an interesting maneuver, one that suggests Disney and Abrams are playing it a bit safe with "Star Wars 7," giving fans of the franchise the characters they know and love. And perhaps this is what we can expect from the franchise going forward: the mainline series not deviating too wildly from the six films that have come already, with the spinoff movies perhaps allowing for a few more risks to be taken. And one can't argue with the decision of giving Luke, Han and Leia one more time at bat before the franchise moves ahead with their children.
Lots to ponder as Abrams continues to meet with actors, with Michael Fassbender, Adam Driver and Hugo Weaving also thrown into the rumor mill, and Weaving being eyed to play an Imperial Commander.
"Star Wars: Episode 7" arrives on December 18, 2015.