With it now being the biggest movie in American history (not adjusted for inflation), “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has pretty much conquered the known universe, or at least this particular hemisphere of it — the movie opens in China this weekend, where its box office is more of a question mark. This inevitably means that it’s time to move on to rumors about the next, next “Star Wars” movie.
Little’s known about “Episode VIII,” beyond that Rian Johnson’s directing and Benicio Del Toro has a role, but we do know that the filmmakers have been hunting for an actress to play a new female character, with Tatiana Maslany, Olivia Cooke, and Gina Rodriguez reported to be the last few contenders before Collider reported that “Beyond The Lights” star Gugu Mbatha-Raw had been cast.
We bought the latter: she’d pulled out of a transfer of a play she was in in London, and Johnson’s a huge fan of “Beyond The Lights.” But according to The Wrap’s Jeff Sneider, appearing on the Meet The Movie Press YouTube show, that might not be the case, and another actress could have emerged.
According to Sneider, Variety’s Justin Kroll told him that Mbatha-Raw didn’t have the part, and now Sneider says that, while Gina Rodriguez is still in the running, another name has emerged in the shape of Bel Powley, who broke out in last year’s excellent “Diary Of A Teenage Girl.”
It’s worth noting that these are purely rumors at this point, and Sneider isn’t yet sure if Powley is up for the same role as Rodriguez or a different one. But still, while it would be a shame for Mbatha-Raw to miss out, Powley’s terrific and we’d be glad to see her enter the universe.
Elsewhere in a galaxy far, far away, Slashfilm pass on a report saying that the first trailer for the “Star Wars” movie in between, spin-off “Rogue One,” will be attached to “Captain America: Civil War,” which makes sense, though they caution that we might see footage before that. They also suggest that *SPOILERS* Mads Mikkelsen is playing an Oppenheimer-style scientist who designed the Death Star, but has now defected, and recruits his daughter, Felicity Jones’ character, to help. *END SPOILERS*
Finally, Lucasfilm revealed that the stormtrooper with the stun baton that Finn faces off with in 'The Force Awakens' is named FN-2199, a character who trains alongside Finn in spin-off book “Before The Awakening,” making their fight into more of a grudge match (maybe they should have put that in the movie?). And Yahoo Movies report that fans have launched a petition for George Lucas to direct “Star Wars: Episode IX.” Good luck with that.