Monday, February 15, 2016

Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, Kelly Marie Tran Join 'Episode VIII'

Following the announcement by Disney CEO Bob Iger, has officially confirmed that Episode VIII has begun filming at Pinewood Studios in London. The site verifies that the entire primary cast (minus Harrison Ford) of The Force Awakens will be returning, from Lupita Nyong'o (Maz Kanata) to Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke). A short announcement video is included, featuring footage of Luke and Rey on the planet of Ahch-To. At first glance, it appears to be identical to the final scene of The Force Awakens, but since it's taken at a different angle, this could be our first look at Episode VIII.

More importantly, the site reveals three new cast members: Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, and Kelly Marie Tran. Del Toro's involvement is no surprise; he confirmed his villainous role in the film in early September, though this is the first time that Disney/Lucasfilm have corroborated that. (They were probably not too happy to learn that Del Toro prematurely divulged his character's position on the Dark Side of the Force.) The Oscar winner is no stranger to Disney-produced sci-fi films, after appearing in Guardians of the Galaxy as the eccentric Collector. 
Benicio Del Toro as the Collector 
In sharp contrast, Dern was never before rumored to be part of the cast. The 49-year-old actress is most known for Jurassic Park and The Fault in Our Stars, and was nominated for Oscars for Rambling Rose and Wild. Her character's allegiance is unknown, but Dern has mostly sticked to protagonistic roles in the past. Since she's recently been playing the mothers of main female characters (in The Fault in Our Stars and Wild), one could guess that she'll be playing Rey's mother.
Kelly Marie Tran is essentially the Daisy Ridley of this casting announcement, in the sense that she's a young, unknown actress who is undoubtedly currently inspiring millions of Google searches. She's appeared in short films, television, and theater, but to the youth of the Internet, she might be most recognizable from the popular YouTube channel CollegeHumorAgain, we don't know anything about her character, but she could quite possibly be playing the female role reportedly sought out by the likes of Tatiana Maslany and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. 
Tran's online resume gives some basic details about her acting career and training, and it also lists her as a "lead" in Episode VIII. Though she probably won't be taking Ridley's spot as the primary heroine, this gives us some idea as to the size of her role. Regardless, Tran will be breaking new ground as the first Asian-American actress to have a main role in a Star Wars film. What do you think of this announcement? Tell me in the comments, and may the Force be with you all. 


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