When Michael Arndt was replaced as the writer of Star Wars: Episode VII last fall, we were told it had to do with timing concerns. But according to a new report in the Hollywood Reporter, the real reason was a disagreement over who the film should be about: Luke, Leia and Han, or the next generation.
Minor spoilers ahead...
The Hollywood Reporter's Heat Vision blog quotes unnamed sources as saying that Toy Story 3 writer Arndt (and original Star Wars creator George Lucas) wanted Episode VII to be about the children of Luke, Leia and Han Solo, but director J.J. Abrams disagreed:
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.
Abrams and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan (who also co-wrote Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back) have been retooling the script so radically, a lot of the roles that people had been trying out for are no longer valid. For example, Tye Sheridan (Mud) had been a frontrunner for one role — but now there's no need for such young actors. Also, one role that had been envisioned as a 20-year-old male is now a 40-year-old.
But apparently it's true that Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad) is meeting with J.J. Abrams about a major role. Also, he's met with Adam Driver (Girls) and Michael Fassbender (Prometheus) about roles. Hugo Weaving (The Matrix) is in line to play an Imperial Commander in the film, which seems like perfect casting.
And there's one more piece of casting rumor: Heat Vision says Abrams is rumored to be searching for a "20-something female actress" who is either mixed-race or black. "The rumor is that Obi-Wan Kenobi had a daughter or granddaughter."
In any case, it's way, way too early to make any judgments about a film that hasn't started shooting yet — but off-hand, a film focusing on a new generation of Star Wars heroes sounds like a somewhat better idea than Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher taking center stage one last time. [Heat Vision]
Top image: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed concept art.