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Everything You Need to Know About the New ‘Star Wars: Episode 7′ Cast

Star Wars Episode 7 cast
Getty Images

It’s happened: they’ve officially announced the cast of ‘Star Wars: Episode 7.’ We knew that original trilogy stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher would be returning to the roles that made their careers, but it’s the new cast members that have us really excited. It’s going to be nice to see Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Leia Organa reunited on the big screen, but it’s going to be truly exciting to see what characters director J.J. Abrams will create from scratch.

The new cast members are a fantastic combo of established character actors, on-the-rise stars, living legends and complete unknowns. But, just in case you aren’t familiar with them we’ve assembled a basic primer. Here’s what you need to know about each of the new additions to the ‘Star Wars’ universe!

Oscar Isaac

CBS Films

Although he’s been acting steadily for the better part of a decade, Oscar Isaac only recently became a real Hollywood player with his stunning performance in Joel and Ethan Coen’s ‘Inside Llewyn Davis,’ a role that would have netted him an Oscar nomination in a just world. He appeared in plenty of interesting films through the 2000s, working alongside Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan as a troubled ex-con in ‘Drive’ and playing a role in Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Che.’ He also his his fair share of experience in the blockbuster arena, having played Prince John in Ridley Scott’s ‘Robin Hood’ and Blue Jones in Zack Snyder’s ‘Sucker Punch.’

Still, it’s difficult to imagine him nabbing the ‘Star Wars’ gig without his restrained, hilarious and melancholy work as folk singer Llewyn Davis. Hilariously, ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ sees Isaac performing back-up vocals on “Please Mr. Kennedy,” a song where he begs to not be sent into outer space.  We’re very glad he reconsidered.

John Boyega

StudioCanal

We’ve been waiting for John Boyega to explode ever since he rocked our world with his leading performance in ‘Attack the Block’ back in 2011. As the stoic teenage hood Moses, Boyega commanded the screen before the aliens invaded his apartment block and forced him to step up and become an unlikely action hero. It’s the kind of badass performance that makes you a star and he’s been rumored to be in contention for all kinds of roles in the past few years, including Marvel’s Black Panther.

Boyega has worked steadily since then, appearing in a handful of smaller films and TV movies (as well as an upcoming stint on FOX’s ‘24: Live Another Day‘), but a role on ‘Star Wars: Episode 7′ feels like the culmination of that ‘Attack the Block’ goodwill. At least he has plenty of experience battling aliens!

Adam Driver

Transmission Films

Long-rumored to be playing the villain of ‘Star Wars: Episode 7,’ Adam Driver feels like an outside-the-box choice for this particular universe … which is also why we can’t wait to see what he brings to it. Although best known for playing Hannah’s eccentric actor boyfriend on HBO’s ‘Girls,’ Driver has worked with his fair share of noteworthy filmmakers, including Clint Eastwood on ‘J. Edgar,’ Noah Baumbach on ‘Frances Ha,’ and Steven Spielberg on ‘Lincoln.’ He may be best known for playing weirdos and goofballs, but there’s always been a certain danger attached to his sillier characters. Even the awkward Adam has his dark and terrifying moments and we can’t wait to see an actor as talented as Driver really get a chance to stretch his muscles, especially when his new canvas is the ‘Star Wars’ universe.

And most importantly, he was also in ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ and he also sang on “Please Mr. Kennedy” with Oscar Isaac, making him the second ‘Star Wars: Episode 7′ cast member to have begged, through song, to not leave their planet. Trivia!

Domhnall Gleeson

Universal

Even if you don’t know his name, you’ve seen Domhnall Gleeson. The son of the great Brendan Gleeson, he’s worked steadily in films both massive and tiny, playing everything from wizards to tech geeks to loving fathers and husbands. If you didn’t see him in the heartbreaking sci-fi drama ‘Never Let Me Go,’ you surely saw him as Ron Weasley’s brother Bill Weasley in the ‘Harry Potter’ series. If you missed his brief but vital turn in the fantastic ‘True Grit’ remake, you may have seen him bring humanity to the goofy-as-hell dystopic action flick ‘Dredd.’ Most recently, he played the lead role in ‘About Time,’ taking a potentially silly concept about a man who learns he can travel through time and creating one of the most heartbreaking performances of 2013.

Domhnall Gleeson may not be too well known yet, but his presence in a film as big as ‘Star Wars: Episode 7′ has been a long time coming.

Daisy Ridley

E4

When the ‘Star Wars: Episode 7′ cast was announced, you could practically feel a giant question mark appear above the internet’s head when Daisy Ridley’s name was announced. Who is this girl and how did she manage to beat out so many other big names that were in contention for this film? Right now, her filmography is composed almost entirely of appearances on British television shows like ‘Silent Witness’ and ‘Toast of London,’ where she played characters like “Stage Hand.” So, yes: Ridley’s casting is J.J. Abrams and Disney taking a chance on an unknown. Hey, it worked out well for George Lucas nearly 40 years ago!

We may not know much about Ridley, but we know even less about her role in the film. She reacted to the casting announcement with a tweet:

Andy Serkis

20th Century Fox

Of all of the new actors being added to the ‘Star Wars’ line-up, Andy Serkis is undoubtedly the most well-known and beloved by the geek community. Although he’s been working as an actor since the late ’80s, his became an unlikely superstar with his performance as Gollum in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, which made him a go-to guy for technically challenging genre projects. Although he’s appeared in his human form in films like Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Prestige,’ he’s spent much of the past decade helping push motion capture technology forward, playing King Kong for Peter Jackson, Captain Haddock in ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ for Steven Spielberg, and Caesar in ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ and the upcoming ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.’

So here’s the big question: will Serkis be playing a human character or is Abrams taking advantage of his mo-cap experience to cast him as visual effects heavy alien character? In either case, it’s really hard to go wrong with putting him in your movie.

Max von Sydow

Warner Bros.

Most of the actors joining ‘Star Wars: Episode 7′ are relatively young people on the rise, but Max von Sydow is nothing short of a living legend and one of the best actors of all time.  He got his start in Sweden, acting for legendary filmmaker Ingmar Bergman in soul-shattering classics like ‘Through a Glass Darkly,’ ‘The Virgin Spring,’ and ‘Winter Light.’ Eventually, Hollywood came for him and he became a fixture of American popular culture with his iconic performance as Father Merrin in ‘The Exorcist.’

And he hasn’t shied away from genre filmmaking since! He played Emperor Ming in ‘Flash Gordon,’ King Osric in ‘Conan the Barbarian,’ Doctor Kynes in ‘Dune’ and voiced the evil Vigo in ‘Ghostbusters II.’ More recently, he played key roles in ‘Minority Report,’ ‘Robin Hood,’ ‘Shutter Island’ and ‘The Tudors,’ making him the busiest 85 year old in the business. There was a big Alec Guinness=shaped hole in the ‘Star Wars’ universe and von Sydow looks like the perfect man to fill it.

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