Where Do I Know Him From? Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood," Nicolas Winding Refn's "Drive," the Coen Brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis," while he'll also be seen in Alex Garland's upcoming "Ex Machina," William Monahan's "Mojave" and JC Chandor's "A Most Violent Year"
Who He Could Play (Speculation Alert) & Who We Don’t Want Him To Play: Harrison Ford is returning, but again, if Abrams & co. want to go the obvious route of trying to rebottle the original 'Star Wars' magic, this younger generation needs some sort of reluctant hero, a dashing rapscallion who bends rules and breaks hearts--a "new Han" if you will--and Isaac certainly has the looks for it, with an added dash of soulfulness where needed. One of the rumored casting spots was for a 40-ish male military type and if that turns out to be true, Isaac could fit that bill. Perhaps some kind of Rebellion captain – though does the Rebellion still exists 30 years later when presumably the Empirical dictatorship was dismantled some three decades earlier (we pray they don't get bogged down in the politics and trade embargoes like the prequels did)? So the general consensus so far seems to be that he's likely to play that sort of character, maybe a mercenary, maybe a bounty hunter, but one who ultimately becomes a hero. We suppose as long as he’s not Han’s cousin we’re ok with all of that, just please don’t make him a carbon(ite) copy.
What Makes Him Suited For The 'Star Wars' Universe? One thing in his favor in the "new Han" hypothesis is that Isaac is at roughly the same level of fame as Ford was when he was cast originally. But also, Isaac has shown in the past that he can play sympathetic ('Llewyn') or unsympathetic ("Drive," "Robin Hood") but always brings depth and conflict, which means he'd be ideally suited for one of 'Star Wars' more complex, less good-or-evil characters, one who we could believe might be capable of heroism and treachery.
Best Prior Performance: "Inside Llewyn Davis," no doubt. Scandalous that he got no Oscar nod.
Where Do I Know Him From? Mo-cap specialist Serkis is best known as the guy who wears the body suit with all the tennis balls on it so that a squadron of computer whizzes can create something as impressive as Gollum in the 'Lord of the Rings'/'Hobbit' movies. He was also in the suit, so to speak, for Peter Jackson's "King Kong" and was an amazing Caesar in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," and will soon to return in "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." He also voices Captain Haddock in the 'Tintin' movies and the lead Elf in "Arthur Christmas," while he's shown up in his own skin, wearing his own face is films like "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll," "24 Hour Party People" "13 Going On 30" "Burke and Hare" and "The Escapist."
Who He Could Play (Speculation Alert) & Who We Don’t Want Him To Play: Given Serkis' area of specialty, and given that the Star Wars universe needs to populated with a multitude of species that don't look human, the obvious route would be to make him some kind of alien creature that he renders in mo-cap. And unless Abrams is playing a very deep game and has actually cast Serkis in a non-mo-cap role (and we'd love to see him as a human; he's a pretty underrated actor) which we honestly don't think even the notoriously tricksy, wrong-footing director would do here. Unless it's in addition to mo-cap work (kinda like on "King Kong" where he got a live action role too). What species? Who knows, but as long as it's not a Gungan, or any relation to a certain character who shares his first two initials with JJ Abrams, we're down.
What Makes Him Suited For The "Star Wars" Universe? The fact that, once the live action parts are cast, it's Serkis who has the real expertise to bring 98% of the diversity of the fictional Universe to life.
Best Prior Performance: Serkis' mo-cap work stands on its own, and definitely suggests that in future we're going to need to work out some way that mo-cap performances can be recognized for major awards, because his Gollum is simply one of the most indelible, best-acted roles in recent memory.
Where Do I Know Him From? Irish actor, son of the awesome Brendan Gleeson, first came to attention playing Bill Weasley in the 'Harry Potter' films, has been on a steady ascent ever since. Mixes big films and small, leads and support: "Shadow Dancer," "Dredd," Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina," Richard Curtis' "About Time" and recently Lenny Abrahamson's "Frank" and a small part in John Michael McDonough's "Calvary," opposite his Dad. He'll soon be seen in Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken" too.
Who He Could Play (Speculation Alert) & Who We Don’t Want Him To Play: As his CV suggests, Gleeson is extremely versatile and can play a romantic lead ('Karenina,' "About Time") as well as a character role. Wild speculation suggests he could be Luke Skywalker's son Ben (which seems to be a favorite theory in some parts). But some more fanciful, (okay dumber) guesses included that because he's sitting next to Anthony Daniels at the table read and due to his physique and creditable English accent, he might be playing a next-generation protocol droid. Son of C-3PO? We seriously can't see that happening, and feel free to punch us in the groin if it does. More likely, with a trio of new leads suggested by the higher ups at Disney, given his age, Gleeson, Boyega and Ridley, could conceivably be that triad, which probably places him as some kind of hero. Jedi, soldier or otherwise, we’ll let you dreamcast that one yourself.
What Makes Him Suited For The "Star Wars" Universe? Gleeson has already amassed an eclectic portfolio for one so young, but also isn't necessarily the showboaty type, often impressing in smaller character roles within an ensemble. "Star Wars" has always relied as much on establishing fetishizable supporting characters as leads, so this quality of his could well come into play as second or third lead here.
Best Prior Performance: Tough call, but we loved him in "Anna Karenina" where he, along with Alicia Vikander, arguably provided the more compelling love story.
Last, but not least, remember there's at least one more female joining the cast, so save those "Does Star Wars Ep 7 pass the Bechdel Test" thinkpieces until the casting is fully done (or better yet, until you've seen the finished movie). And now, feel free to push your glasses up your nose and tell us all the ways we're wrong about who'll be playing what, or simply to tell us if the new casting news has inflamed or dampened your enthusiasm for the unstoppable oncoming juggernaut that is "Star Wars Episode VII."