The Star Wars galaxy just got a little bit bigger. With today’s announcement that Star Wars: Episode VIII has commenced principal photography at Pinewood Studios in London came the announcement that Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro, Academy Award nominee Laura Dern, and newcomer Kelly Marie Tran have signed on for the film. They join Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, and Andy Serkis, who are all returning for the second film of the Star Wars sequel trilogy.
So who are these new cast members? Let’s take a look at what we know.
Benicio Del Toro
Benicio Del Toro is a brilliant actor who has won an Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Golden Globe Award, and more. He’s been in films like The Usual Suspects, Sin City, and Traffic, the latter of which won him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2000. He also played the infamous Che Guevara in Che. Del Toro first came to prominence in his role as Dario, a villainous henchman, in Licence to Kill, the sixteenth and, in my opinion, most criminally underrated entry in the James Bond franchise. You can read all about Dario on James Bond Wiki. Del Toro made an even bigger mark on pop culture in his brief but central role as The Collector in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, for which he also made a cameo appearance in Thor: The Dark World.
Del Toro is apparently not one for mysteries, because he’s been talking about how he was cast in Episode VIII for months now, long before it was officially confirmed! He has hinted that he may be playing a villain. Fan speculation has ranged from the predictable theories that he may be one of the Knights of Ren, to even more outlandish theories suggesting he could be playing a grown up Ezra Bridger from Star Wars Rebels. Wouldn’t that be something!
Laura Dern is an incredible actress who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in the 1991 film Rambling Rose and Best Supporting Actress for the 2014 film Wild. Pop culture audiences will recognize her for her starring role as Dr. Ellie Sattler in Jurassic Park, a role she returned to for Jurassic Park III. You can read all about Ellie on Jurassic Park Wiki. She’s also been in such films as Blue Velvet, October Sky, I Am Sam, and The Master. Nothing is known about Dern’s role in Episode VIII yet, but we’re excited to find out who she could be.
Kelly Marie Tran
Star Wars has a long history of casting unknowns. From Mark Hamill, to Carrie Fisher, to Hayden Christensen, to Daisy Ridley and beyond, fresh faces are something that have helped fans see these actors as their characters, rather than the names behind the characters. The casting of Kelly Marie Tran continues that tradition. Some of her previous credits include the television series Ladies Like Us, as well as the online series CollegeHumor Originals. Whatever her role ends up being, she is sure to become a household name soon enough. We look forward to seeing what her role might be!
As part of the announcement of the film’s production and cast, Lucasfilm released a tantalizing new teaser featuring Luke Skywalker and Rey, as director Rian Johnson films scenes for Episode VIII on Skellig Michael, the location serving as Luke’s island on the planet Ahch-To. Check it out below!
Star Wars: Episode VIII, written and directed by Rian Johnson, is scheduled for release on December 15, 2017. You can find out everything we know about Episode VIII so far on Wookieepedia.