After a very deliberately paced casting process, the new adventure in a galaxy far, far away in finally starting to take shape. According to Variety, John Boyega, Jesse Plemons, and Ed Speleers, as well as theater actors Ray Fisher and Matthew James Thomas are all in the running for the lead role in Star Wars: Episode VII. The role is rumored to be a Jedi apprentice, and will likely see the character learning the ways of the Jedi from Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker.
It seems that director J.J. Abrams is targeting relatively unkown actors for the lead roles, a move that worked wonders in A New Hope. In the past, Abrams and other members of the production have been vocal about returning the franchise to its roots, and evoking the qualities that made the original trilogy such a dearly beloved series among fans. After sifting through the short list of actors, we wondered which of the more notable names would go on to make the best Jedi apprentice.
Notable Roles: Moses in Attack the Block.Jedi Potential: Jedis are the stoic protectors of the galaxy. As we saw in Attack the Block, Boyega can do stoic very well. But beyond that, Boyega’s turn in ATB also conveyed a hidden rage burning under the surface of his character, and the ability to give a nuanced performance is important considering how flat the Jedi have come across in the past. Seriously, Star Wars found a way to make Samuel L. Jackson boring.Lightsaber Prowess: In Attack the Block, Moses’ chosen weapon to fight off alien invaders is a katana, which is a weapon only a couple million technological innovations away from a lightsaber. By that logic, Boyega should be a natural, though some bandages might come in handy.
Notable Roles: Todd in Breaking Bad, Landry in Friday Night Lights.Jedi Potential: There’s something inherently goofy about Jesse Plemons. Even when portraying a mush-mouthed sociopath in Breaking Bad, it was hard to stay mad at him. While those characteristics might have worked in the pitch black humor of Breaking Bad, we wonder how this might play in the Star Wars universe, especially considering how seriously the Jedi generally take themselves.Lightsaber Prowess: A true Renaissance man, Friday Night Lights’ Landry Clarke was not only one of the best kickers Dillon High School had ever seen, but he was also the lead singer in the Christian speed metal band Crucifictorious. When you’ve already touched greatness in faith based rock music and high school football, handling a lightsaber should be cake.
Notable Roles: Eragon in Eragon, Jimmy in Downton Abbey.Jedi Potential: Speleers' first taste of fantasy filmmaking came in Eragon, a popular book series that didn't have the legs to last as a succesful film property. Speleers’ character on Downton Abbey, Jimmy, is the confident and charismatic footman at Downton, and his bravado and flirtatious tendancies have often gotten him in trouble at the estate. Words like "bravado" and "charisma" don't usually go hand in hand with Jedi, but afterthe prequel films, we don't think most fans would mind a little diversity in Jedi personalities.Lightsaber Prowess: There isn't much in the way of swordplay on the estate of Downton, but Speleers did get some bladework in while filming Eragon, so a lightsaber shouldn't be too big of an adjustment.
MATTHEW JAMES THOMAS
Notable Roles: Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark.Jedi Potential: Thomas' time as the geeky arbiter of justice, Spider-Man, should give him an edge in the Jedi department. The infamous Broadway production was full of high flying wire work, so Thomas should be well equipped to handle any stunts in the upcoming film. In any case, Jedi are sort of the geeks of the galaxy anyway.Lightsaber Prowess: Peter Parker isn't one for swordplay, so Thomas might be a little lost during the lightsaber battles, but all of that Spidey training will still come in handy.
Notable Roles: Muhammad Ali in Fetch Clay, Make Man.Jedi Potential: A virtual unknown in the film world, Fisher doesn't have many big screen credits as of yet, but the young thespian does have a good amount of experience in theater. The actor recently played Muhammad Ali in the off-Broadway production of Fetch Clay, Make Man. Ali was a fierce boxer as well as a thinker, and the Jedi order has the same dichotomy of violence and philosophy. We think Fisher may be more qualified for the Jedi Robes than his IMDB page lets on. He'll certainly be the coolest Jedi ever.Lightsaber Prowess: Honestly, who needs lightsabers when you're the heavyweight champion of the world? The force is strong with this one, even without any laser sword experience.
Breaking Bad star Jesse Plemons and Downton Abbey's Ed Speleers are among the actors who have been shortlisted to play the lead role in Star Wars: Episode Vii. Ray Fisher and British actors John Boyega and Matthew James Thomas are also being considered to take on the role of a young Jedi apprentice in the much-anticipated movie, according to Variety.com.
The film was originally supposed to focus on the children of Han Solo and Princess Leia, but the characters have reportedly been moved to supporting roles.
Director J.J. Abrams is scheduled to begin production on the project in London later this year (14), with the film hitting theatres in 2015.
Irish actress Saoirse Ronan and Michael B. Jordan previously confirmed they have auditioned for roles in the blockbuster and reports suggest Carrie Fisher will return as Princess Leia.
There is no shortage of shocking moments this season. It looks like Downton Abbey is channeling Melrose Place. Here’s hoping that Heather Locklear stops by as a 1920s advertising executive hell-bent on getting her hands on the Abbey. The original Shady Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) is replete with side-eyes, social slights, and aristocratic sass. Lady Edith is also making poor romantic choices as usual. Oh poor Edith, why are you so unlovable? Meanwhile, has anyone noticed that Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) sounds a lot like a slightly inebriated Liza Minnelli?
The party guests are slowly leaving. Michael Gregson (Charles Edwards) proved himself a hero. Miss Braithwaite (MyAnna Buring) has gone full-on Fatal Attraction on Tom Branson (Allen Leech). She is trying to turn their one-night-stand into a ticket to the wealth of Downton.
Lady Mary, Edith, Tom and Lady Rose MacClare (Lily James) head to London to stay with Lady Rosamund Painswick (Samantha Bond). They head to The Lotus Club to listen to some jazz. Steve Urkel Jack Ross (Gary Carr) serenedes with the most nasal rendition of 1920s jazz. When, Lady Rose’s escort gets sloppy, Jack saves the day by cutting in. However, Tom rushes to stop her from dancing with a black man. Racism is alive in London, people.
Lord Gillingham (Tom Cullen) is courting the hell out of Lady Mary. He even snuck on the same train to surprise her at home. He proposes but Mary has to decline but she does give him an epic kiss on the grounds.
The Drama: Not only is Mr. Gregson heading to a pre-World War 2 Germany to get a divorce, but they totally spent the night together. He seems somewhat above board since he gave Edith power of attorney over his finances. But ... does he plan to sleep with her and run? Also, has he left her with legal control for an ulterior motive?
Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt) is still recovering from her attack and not doing so well since she has to see Mr. Green (Nigel Harman) before he leaves. She has become very icy to Bates (Brendan Coyle) and absolutely refuses to tell him why. She has even asked Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) to move back with the servants. Ivy (Cara Theobold) and Jimmy (Ed Speleers) have upgraded their lame courtship into full-on canoodling. Alfred (Matt Milne), jilted, has decided to apply for a cooking fellowship with The Ritz hotel. He may be leaving Downton like his aunt O’Brien. Carson (Jim Carter) is also beginning a very slow flirtation with Mrs. Hughes. Could the Mom and Pop of the staff get together for real?
The Drama: Mrs. Hughes plays Tom’s hero by destroying Braithwaite and her pregnancy claims. She finds a book about conception and bluffs Braithwaite into leaving Downton. She also tells her that if she makes a fuss she will never get a job in her lifetime. Now, if only Mrs. Hughes can tackle Anna’s attacker.
Best Lines of the Night
Don’t be transparent mamà, it doesn’t suit you. -Lady Mary to Cora
Don’t say I’m not good enough. If you were good enough for Lady Cybil Crawley then I’m good enough for you. -Braithwaite to Tom
Ivy moves a little fast for a beginner, don’t she -Daisy (Sophie McShera)
If we only had moral thoughts ... what would the poor church men find to do? -Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith)
Things have come to a pretty pass when you have to be rescued by a black band leader. -Lady Rosemound being a tad wee bit racist
Do you ever wonder why people dislike you so much? It’s because you’re sly, oily, and smug and I’m really pleased I got to tell you before I go. -Braithwaite to Barrow
If we’re playing the truth game. You’re a lying manipulative little witch and if your schemes have come to nothing I’m delighted. -Tom Barrow (Rob James-Collier) to Braithwaite
Edith is about as mysterious as a bucket. -Lady Mary
Downton is abuzz with an impending party .. but when are they not having one?
Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) is surprised by the appearance of the newly named Lord Gillingham (Tom Cullen). They begin to bond and Mary begins to resemble her former self. Is it too much to hope for the slight-delivering, passive aggressive Lady Mary from Series 1? Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) invites Michael Gregson (Charles Edwards) in the hopes that he will win the respect of her parents. Good luck, Lady Edith ... you’re the 1920’s answer to the Cathy comics. Ack! Terence Sampson (Patrick Kennedy) arrives on the scene and convinces everyone to play cards including Earl Grantham (Hugh Bonneville). Luckily, Mr. Gregson wins back all the money and exposes the dirty dealings of Sampson.
Meanwhile, everyone seems to be really inconsiderate of poor Tom (Allen Leech). A guest asks him about Lady Sybil. Isobel (Penelope Wilton) arrives to the party despite mourning. Then in true shady fashion she complains about her sadness to Tom despite the fact that he’s a widower. Sure, she lost a child but is it anyone’s place to give someone survivor’s guilt? Tom confesses that he doesn’t feel like he belongs with the family. Scheming Miss Braithwaite (MyAnna Buring) brings him a huge glass of whiskey and then shows up at his room late in the night.
The drama: Lady Rose MacClare (Lily James) surprises everyone, including Lady Mary, by bringing down Matthew’s old phonograph. Lord Grantham has Australian opera singer Nellie Melba (Kiri Te Kanawa) dine in her room until Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern) corrects his error. Also, what the hell is going to happen if anyone founds out that Tom slummed it with Braithwaite?
Carson (Jim Carter) is his usually stern self as everyone is working double duty in entertaining mode. Lord Gillingham’s valet (Nigel Harman), known only as Mr. Gillingham, arrives on the scene and befriends Anna (Joanne Froggatt) much to Mr. Bates’ dismay (Brendan Coyle). Trying to impress Ivy (Cara Theobold) Jimmy (Ed Speleers) falls and hurts his hand. A broke Mr. Molesley (Kevin Doyle), has been complaining all over town how broke he is and taking odd jobs. And yet, when asked to be a footman in place of Jimmy, he complains a lot.
Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) has a panic attack. Alfred (Matt Milne) makes the sauce and discovers a love for cooking. Anna has a headache so she excuses herself during the opera performance. In a disturbing turn of events, Anna gets violently raped by Mr. Gillingham. Too scared to tell her husband, she enlists Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) for help in covering it up. This is a huge departure from Downton's normal drama. Is having lovable and sweet Anna attacked too far or is it the right level of drama for the show? After all, times are changing as we approach the 1920s.
The drama: Anna can’t tell Mr. Bates because she’s worried he will go nuts and kill her attacker. Clearly, he’s a little unhinged. If memory serves he didn’t even kill his wife despite being arrested for her murder.
What does one say to a singer? - Lord Grantham
Screaming in the servant’s hall, singers chatting to his lordship and a footman cooking the dinner what a topsy-turvy world we’ve come to. - Carson
I’m afraid Tom’s small talk is very small. - Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith)
Based on the widely popular novel by Christopher Paolini we meet Eragon (Ed Speleers) a simple farm boy living in a land overrun by evil King Galbatorix (John Malkovich) and his murderous army of Urgals. Eragon finds a large blue stone sent to him by a princess named Arya (Sienna Guillory) who has been captured by an evil sorcerer Durza (Robert Carlyle). He needs to get the stone back to the king because well it's not really a stone. As Eragon quickly finds out it’s an egg that hatches into a dragon and as cute as it is it eats meat—lots of it. Eragon seeks advice from a grizzled outspoken villager Brom (Jeremy Irons) who explains to the boy he is a dragon rider part of a legendary group killed off by the king long ago. Brom helps the boy and his voracious pet get to the Varden a group of rebels lead by the tough Aijhad (Djimon Hounsou) who have been waiting for just this moment. Meanwhile Eragon learns how to communicate with his dragon Saphira (the voice of Rachel Weisz) through his thoughts and they learn about their extraordinary powers the more they connect. Of course Durza and the Urgals won't stop before they kill the boy and his dragon. Newcomer Speleers makes the perfect dragon rider imagined by Paolini. The young actor has depth showing believable emotion throughout his journey of turning from a farm boy into a hero a lad into a man. He's destined to be a superstar coming across like a young Brad Pitt. Guillory (Resident Evil: Apocalypse) also looks the part of a princess and has great chemistry with the young master Speleers. And together they hold their own with a superstar cast of Oscar winners (Weisz and Irons) and nominees (Hounsou and Malkovich). Despite such talent however this A-list cast doesn’t really have much to do—except Irons and Malkovich who manage to chew up the scenery regardless. But it's Carlyle (The Full Monty) who seems to have the greatest fun as the wild-haired heartless wizard with bad teeth who kills at a whim. Director Stefen Fangmeier is a neophyte to filmmaking much like the film’s young star Speleers and the story’s young author Paolini who was only a teenager when he first wrote Eragon the first in a trilogy called Inheritance Trilogy. It’s an impressive directorial debut but not too surprising since Fangmeier has been mostly working in the CGI and special effects field for companies such as Mental Images and ILM and has worked on movies such as Jurassic Park Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. He gets it trust us. The computer graphics of the dragon are superb from the big blue-eyed baby--looking like a cuddly dachshund with wings--to the large clumsy winged beast who is still learning to fly and breathe fire. Fangmeier brings to life frightening moments to make us grab our seats but still be enjoyable and not too violent for the PG crowd. Sure it’s a story we’ve seen before i.e. Star Wars Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings but Fangmeier has created a unique world raw and innocent. The result is a perfect adventure film; this should be the beginning of a successful franchise.