Star Wars: Episode VII cast members have been announced. The world had been waiting with bated breath. Who will The Force be with?
Well, not with humankind and its fellow Earth dwellers (apart from cockroaches and various types of worms) — if news reports about the eventual fate of the planet are accurate. But don’t despair. The End credits for Planet Earth should come after Lucasfilm and Walt Disney Studios (instead of former Star Wars film distributor 20th Century Fox) amass a few more billion dollars following the release of a whole array of new Star Wars sequels in the coming years.
So, the announced (mostly European) Star Wars: Episode VII cast members are, to date (April 29, 2014), the following:
- Oscar Isaac (Sucker Punch, widely praised for his performance in Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davies),
- Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, King Kong),
- John Boyega (Attack the Block, Half of a Yellow Sun),
- Daisy Ridley (to be seen in Peter Hearn’s horror movie Scrawl),
- Adam Driver, (Lincoln, the TV series Girls, Inside Llewyn Davies, and to be seen in Saverio Costanzo’s upcoming Hungry Hearts),
- Domhnall Gleeson (son of Brendan Gleeson, a Tony nominee for The Lieutenant of Inishmore, and seen on the big screen supporting Keira Knightley in Anna Karenina and Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2),
- and — since Oscar winner Alec Guinness (The Bridge on the River Kwai) has been gone for a while — veteran Max von Sydow to bring a veneer of prestige to the multiplex release.
Max von Sydow brings cinematic prestige to ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’
I mean, Max von Sydow, as in the guy who starred for Ingmar Bergman in The Seventh Seal, The Virgin Spring, Through a Glass Darkly, Hour of the Wolf, Shame, and The Passion of Anna? A name that’s meaningless to the vast majority of Star Wars fans, but who means Cinema (capital "C") to non-braindead film lovers everywhere? That’s the one and only Max von Sydow, 85 years old last April 10, and a two-time Academy Award nominee (for Bille August’s Pelle the Conqueror, which also earned him a Best Actor European Film Award, and Stephen Daldry’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close).
By the way, Max von Sydow’s credits also include commercial Hollywood stuff like William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, Dino De Laurentiis’ box office misfire Flash Gordon, the Steven Spielberg-Tom Cruise collaboration Minority Report, and even the Sylvester Stallone sci-fier Judge Dredd. Come to think of it, von Sydow even got to play Jesus in George Stevens’ all-star The Greatest Story Ever Told back in the mid-’60s, and around that time co-starred with Julie Andrews in George Roy Hill’s Hawaii. In the ’80s, he was directed by Woody Allen in Hannah and Her Sisters and was featured in David Lynch’s Dune.
In fact, Max von Sydow has been around for more than six decades, making movies in just about every corner of the globe, not to mention a handful of other planets as well. Now, it’s time for him to move on to other galaxies far, far away.
Original ‘Star Wars’ trio to return
At this stage, it’s unclear who will be playing which role. Anyhow, the new Star Wars: Episode VII cast members will be joining Star Wars veterans Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher (to be seen at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival in a supporting role in David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars, starring Robert Pattinson, John Cusack, Mia Wasikowska, and Julianne Moore).
Also returning are Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker as, respectively, Chewbacca and RD-D2.
Disney, which acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, will release Star Wars: Episode VII in December 2015. This particular Star Wars sequel will be set three decades after Return of the Jedi, which was released 31 years ago. George Lucas directed the original Star Wars (1977), which became one of the biggest blockbusters in history (adjusted for inflation, it’s supposed to trail only Victor Fleming’s Gone with the Wind). Irvin Kershner directed the sequel, The Empire Strikes Back (1980), followed by Richard Marquand’s unenthusiastically received Return of the Jedi (1983).
George Lucas, who later on got mighty pissed off with rabid Star Wars fans, directed three other Star Wars movies: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999), with Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, and Terence Stamp; Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002), with McGregor, Portman, Hayden Christensen, and Christopher Lee; and Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005), with McGregor, Portman, Christensen, Lee, Ian McDiarmid, Jimmy Smits, Keisha Castle-Hughes, and Anthony Daniels.
Also returning for Star Wars: Episode VII will be 82-year-old composer John Williams, who scored the first three Star Wars movies and acted as music conductor in the three prequels.
Max von Sydow Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close photo: Warner Bros. / Paramount Pictures.