The official Star Wars website dropped a bomb on the Internet today by announcing the principal cast of "Star Wars: Episode VII."

Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the new film.

 

Director J.J. Abrams says, "We are so excited to finally share the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again. We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud."

There are a lot of great things here and some official announcements that we've all taken as foregone conclusions. The original cast, including the droids, is back. Absent is Billy Dee Williams. Will Lando's fate be addressed? It's certainly a question mark.

The new cast, although more slanted toward the male gender than I would have guessed, is fascinating. To start, I think the two most exciting cast members for me are Max Von Sydow and Andy Serkis. That the man who played the knight in "The Seventh Seal" and Ming the Merciless in "Flash Gordon" is joining the world of Star Wars brings me untold amounts of joy. And when you add a guy like Von Sydow to the cast, the rest seem young by comparison. (And thinking in terms of timeline, he's old enough to have been around during the Old Republic and the dark times...) And then Andy Serkis raises his own set of questions. Is he in costume? Doing motion capture? Is he playing a human? All of the above? Anything is possible with a performer that versatile. And his performance of Gollum was of such quality that it raised lots of comparison's to Frank Oz's with Yoda, to see him join this film is exciting.

The rest of the cast is low profile by comparison. Adam Driver is a name that's been bandied about for a long time and his work on "Inside Llewyn Davis" was top notch. Another name from that movie is Llewyn Davis himself, Oscar Issac. I'm surprised to see his name come up when it hasn't yet before. To round out the actors stolen from Coen Bros. films is Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson, who played The Kid in "True Grit," though more people would recognize him as Bill Weasley from the Harry Potter series.

Although I've never seen "Attack the Block," the inclusion of John Boyega adds a diversity to the cast I'm excited about and I will now be seeking out that film. Daisy Ridley is the only female addition to the cast (and I'm disappointed there aren't more at this point) and the only thing I'd know her from is an episode of "Mr. Selfridge."

This news release is the most welcome thing I've seen all day. I can't believe we got it as early as we did. Rumors were flying that this would be coming on May 4th for Star Wars Day, and I didn't expect that to happen. Seeing it almost a week prior to that proves that Lucasfilm is going to keep us on our toes for the next decade.

"Star Wars: Episode VII" hits theatres December 18, 2015, which is 597 days away.

Yes. I am counting them.

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Tags: JJ Abrams , Star Wars , episode vii , behind the scenes