A steady stream of Star Wars Episode VII news, rumours, denials and scuttlebutt continues to hit the web, and as the start of shooting draws closer we are still – like someone suffering from hibernation sickness – pretty much in the dark. So we thought we’d round up what Donald Rumsfeld would call the known knowns, the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns: or to put it another way, the fact, the rumour and the mysteries to date. This is the current state of play, and we’ll be keeping it up to date.
1. The Release Date
Star Wars Episode VII is due for release on December 18, 2015. It’s like an early Christmas present for your eyes. - - - - - -
2. The Script Is Complete
J.J. Abrams is directing, from a script that he has written with Lawrence Kasdan. Original writer Michael Arndt was swapped out for the director and his Star Wars veteran co-writer last October. Abrams recently reported that he has finished work on the script so can now focus on the seventy bajillion other things he needs to lock before the film hits screens. - - - - - -
3. The Score
John Williams will score Episode VII, because we live in a civilised society and there are rules. Regular Abrams collaborator Michael Giacchino had been rumoured when the director was first announced, but he was the very first to say that Williams should return. - - - - - -
4. The Shoot
Shooting is reportedly set to start in Pinewood in May, and finish some time in September. But parts of the production will take place at Abrams' Bad Robot base in LA, which has had a performance capture and sound studio upgrade recently. This means that Abrams won't be away from his family for long periods, but the shoot is officially UK based. The film will also use real locations rather than rely on the heavy green-screen of the Prequels. - - - - - -
5. The Stock And Crew
The movie will shoot on 35mm film – not IMAX and not in 3D, it appears. In crew terms, key figures include director of photography Dan Mindel, production designers Rick Carter and Darren Gilford, costume man Michael Kaplan, special effects guru Chris Corbould, sound designer Ben Burtt (a Star Wars legend) and VFX whizz Roger Guyett. Chances are that Abrams or Star Wars fans will recognise all these names, since they're either franchise veterans or regular collaborators of the director's. - - - - - -
6. The New Story
This is not an adaptation of any existing Expanded Universe story – so fans of Timothy Zahn's books should try to clear their mind-canon. However, the original idea for the film (which may have changed in the scripting) was based on an outline by George Lucas. There have been reports of an outline for a third trilogy many times over the years, and most have involved another member of the Skywalker family. - - - - - -
7. The Cast
R2D2 will return. That is the only confirmed cast member at the time of writing.
Back when Michael Arndt was writing the script, it was said that the treatment would “bring the saga of the Skywalkers, the Force-imbued family comprising Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader and twins Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa, to a close in a new trilogy. The story is said to focus on a new generation of heroes” but the original trio of Han, Luke and Leia would all appear.
Reports have recently emerged that Adam Driver has been cast as a Darth Vader-style baddie in the film (in addition to the rumoured talks mentioned below), but unsurprisingly neither the actor nor the studio has confirmed those reports.
Actors who have admitted to taking a meeting / having a conversation about the film...
Actors who have reportedly had a meeting / a conversation, but who have admitted nothing...
Matthew James Thomas
Benedict Cumberbatch (he’s denied being offered a role)
Actors who have reportedly had a meeting / conversation, who then denied it only to have J.J. Abrams confirm it...
The open casting call that took place around the UK last year listed the following character types. It’s not clear if these will all be leading roles, but we could see:
- Late-teen female, independent, good sense of humour, fit.
- Young twenty-something male, witty and smart, fit but not traditionally good looking.
- A late twentysomething male, fit, handsome and confident.
- Seventy-something male, with strong opinions and tough demeanour. Also doesn’ t need to be particularly fit.
- A second young female, also late teens, tough, smart and fit.
- Forty something male, fit, military type.
- Thirtysomething male, intellectual. Apparently doesn’t need to be fit.
1. The Plot!
Will we see Luke, Leia and Han together again? The signs are pretty good that they will appear in some form, but with their kids taking the heavy lifting in terms of action. A more terrifying question is this: will they all make it through alive? Older generations don't tend to make it through Star Wars films intact. Will there be any Sith left this time? If not, who's our Big Bad? - - - - - -
2. The Locations!
We know that filming will be based in London and Los Angeles, but Kathleen Kennedy's remarks suggest that Episode VII will see shooting in exotic locations all over the world. The original trilogy used the deserts of Tunisia, Norway's Hardangerjøkulen Glacier and California's Redwood forests to name but a few – where does that leave? Some South American jungle, maybe? A few southeast Asian temples? The Russian steppe? Swindon on a rainy Tuesday? - - - - - -
3. The Casting!
Will any of the people named above make the cut? And who will they be playing if they do? Will the protagonist, as rumoured, be female? What percentage of the names will be complete unknowns and how many established stars? - - - - - -
4. The Title!
We had a go at predicting the film's subtitle here but will The Return Of The Hydrospanner really be the one they go with? - - - - - -
5. The Costumes!
Will they look like Rodarte's recent Star Wars-themed collection? Maybe in the Star Wars universe, our heroes will have become pop-culture heroes and will be on everyone else's T-shirt and gown! - - - - - -
6. The Spin-Offs!
Disney announced plans to release one Star Wars film every year from 2015 on, with smaller, standalone stories interspersed between the main trilogy and Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg lined up to write two. Rumoured subjects for such films include Boba Fett, young Han Solo and possibly Yoda. But aside from the news that these would be origin stories there’s been nothing since. Are they happening? Are they on schedule? Is Kasdan still involved given his new role in the main trilogy? What’s going on and when can we see all these films already? Throw us a bone here!