Never has a project attracted so much ink about meetings, but such is the passionate interest in Star Wars. Last fall, every few weeks there was a breathless reveal of a meeting, with names such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael B. Jordan, Jack O’Connell, Alex Pettyfer, Saoirse Ronan and Sullivan Stapleton coming up. And those are only the names that leaked out.
With all the actors being tossed around – including a report this week that Breaking Bad's Jesse Plemons was meeting with director J.J. Abrams about a role – Heat Vision thought it was time to check in on Star Wars in general.
Sources confirm Plemons is on the list to chat with Abrams for Episode VII (and possibly the entire trilogy), with a meeting set to take place this week. But he is only one of a long string of actors on Abrams' meeting list.
As usual, Disney and Lucasfilm are declining to comment, as are the agencies of the respective actors.
The project has changed significantly since Oscar winner Michael Arndt split as writer on Episode VII in the fall, with duties taken up by Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
According to multiple insiders, the reason for the parting of ways was not due to a timeframe issue, as has been reported, but rather due to a difference in opinion of which characters to emphasize.
Arndt is said to have focused on the offspring of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), with the original trilogy heroes taking on supporting roles. Abrams, however, wanted Episode VII to focus on the classic trio of characters, so audiences could have one more chance to enjoy them before a fitting send-off. The new characters, the offspring, will now be in supporting roles, according to these sources, and take center stage in Episode VIII and IX. Some characters have disappeared from the Arndt script and new ones are being drafted.
Star Wars creator George Lucas, who directed the 1977 original and each of the most recent trilogy, was also involved in the debate, according to insiders. But Lucas, who sold his Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012, acquiesced to Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy, who now runs Lucasfilm.
So with Abrams and Kasdan now overhauling the script, that means many of the actors who had met and auditioned have been nixed for various reasons. For example, one actor who met with Abrams in the fall before the overhaul was Mud breakout star Tye Sheridan. But sources say that at this stage, there is no need for such young actors and thus Sheridan will not be involved. In another case, one part that was initially conceived as a 20-year old male is now being rewritten to be a 40-year old.
Abrams is, according to many sources, casting a wide, wide net and meeting with "everyone." Even those who have copped to a meeting, such as Ronan, say that.
Abrams has continued meeting with actors while the new script is taking shape. According to sources, he met with Fassbender in December. Girls star Driver is being eyed for a role.
While most names come with no identifying character, Hugo Weaving does. Weaving, according to two sources, met for a part to play an Imperial commander.
The latest bit to surface this week is that Abrams and Lucasfilm are now searching for a 20-something female actress who is either of mixed race or black. The rumor is that Obi-Wan Kenobi had a daughter or granddaughter.
Star Wars: Episode VII hits theaters Dec. 18, 2015.