Last week, Lucasfilm teased that a major casting announcement was to be made soon. No announcement came, but The Film Chronicles thinks they have the name attached to that major announcement. And the name is none other than Benedict Cumberbatch.
A few things are meant to give this rumor (which is all this is, per Star Wars, Episode VII news of late) some merit. The first is Cumberbatch’s relationship with Episode VII director J. J. Abrams. The two worked together on this summer’s hugely successful Star Trek Into Darkness and rumors of Star Wars/Star Trek cross-pollination have been flying about ever since Abrams himself was attached to the upcoming Star Wars project.
But then it went dormant.
Solid, firm news on Episode VII has been scarce and casting rumors have yet to yield any confirmation from Abrams, executive producer Kathleen Kennedy, Disney or Lucasfilm.
Regardless, this particular rumor gained new traction when the English actor abruptly left the upcoming Guillermo del Toro project Crimson Peak. The move caused quite the stir and confusion at the time, but now seems to have been linked to a Star Wars film, according to TFC’s unnamed sources.
The site notes that Cumberbatch is a huge Star Wars fan (who isn’t?) and that somehow lends merit to this particular casting rumor. These interview excerpts from Total Film perfectly paint Cumberbatch’s intense dedcation to the series:
I’ve already asked [J.J. Abrams] if I can be a lightsaber and we’re in talks – about whirring sounds and the rates for the lights and everything [laughs]. I thought, ‘Yeah, I grew up with them,’ and I just looked recently at when they were released and now I’m like, ‘No, I didn’t grow up with them, I was born with them.’ They were a huge part of my background, and my upbringing. I was much more connected to [Star Wars] as a kid, in the way that a lot of kids are because it’s immediate storytelling, very simple – a beautifully, outrageously simple narrative in a way – and a wonderful three-act melodrama, opera. And I loved them. I really, really loved those films and I always wanted to be Han Solo. Everything Harrison Ford did I just thought was the coolest thing ever – Raiders Of The Lost Ark was very much my upbringing as well. What I realized with the reboot of Star Trek in 2009 is that I had a residual love and empathy for these characters because I felt really, giddily sentimental about them getting back together, and this origin story. So Star Trek seeds a little deeper for most people, it’s a little bit more mature – it doesn’t take itself too seriously though, it’s very humorous and fast-paced and imaginative and fun. But I think the serious things that really kind of get you… that comes from good characters, really well drawn characters that have fantastically rich relationships and really interesting meat in the stories. They may be set in space but they dealt with every kind of discussion or morality play, or debate about race or purpose and place and identity, and what it is to belong, and the human condition, and that’s its enduring appeal. I’m backtracking a bit but what I’m saying is my fervor for Trek was there, I just didn’t realize it. I was an out-and-out kid running around with a lightsaber wanting to fly the Millennium Falcon but I think I’m growing into being a Trekkie, if that makes sense.
Cumberbatch has proven himself a more than capable villain and hero in his past work. He could make for a fine Jacen Solo (and play his childhood hero’s son-gone-wrong), and also a fine member of the Jedi Counsel. But then again, his thirty-seven years of age seem to rule him out of that teen-aged role of Solo and his cold way of speaking and long, sculpted face just scream, “Sith!”.
If he has been chosen to star in the next Star Wars trilogy, and more and more sites are getting info that he indeed has been, expect a confirmation very soon. FlickSided will keep you updated when any Star Wars casting happens.
Star Wars, Episode VII will begin shooting this January and will likely be released for the 2015 Christmas season.