Star Wars: Episode VIII Shortlist Released for Female Lead

With stills and merchandise flooding the Internet, it’s obvious that the newest Star Wars movie, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, is set to hit the market soon. But what about the rest of the LucasFilm Star Wars lineup?

Benicio Del ToroWell, Star Wars: Episode VIII, the yet-to-be-subtitled sequel to The Force Awakens, has been turning heads lately with its casting news. Benicio Del Toro finalized his previous talks with the filmmakers and confirmed his likely villainous role a few days ago. Regarding the role, he said, “I’m like the villain, but we’ll see.” We certainly will see, but Del Toro’s comment sounds like he might not be as evil as it appears.

There are also rumors on who will be joining the cast along with Del Toro. Of the characters in The Force Awakens, the only one confirmed to return for the sequel is Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron, but Daisy Ridley’s Rey and John Boyega’s Finn are rumored to return as well.

But what about Star Wars: Episode VIII’s new female lead? Although we’re being told that it’s still early in the casting process, several young actresses have been named to a shortlist. These actresses are set to do chemistry readings with Boyega within the next month with Tatiana Maslany, Olivia Cooke, and Gina Rodriguez considered the major contenders.

Tatiana Maslany Star WarsAll three actresses have television backgrounds, with Maslany and Rodriguez helming their own shows, BBC America’s Orphan Black and the CW’s Jane the Virgin, respectively. Cooke appears as Emma Decody on A&E’s Bates Motel.

Tatiana Maslany, whom you also may have seen in Woman in Gold or her guest role on Parks and Recreation, might have a leg up because she was rumored to be a finalist for the female lead in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story before Felicity Jones was cast in the part. But it’s possible she could be busy playing the multiple roles on Orphan Black that earned her an Emmy nomination.

Gina Rodriguez Star WarsAlthough not Emmy-nominated (yet), Gina Rodriguez did win a Golden Globe for her role in Jane the Virgin, but she hasn’t been in a lot of movies. This could be a pro in casting Rodriguez since she’d be relatively unknown to anyone who doesn’t watch television. She does have roles in several upcoming movies though, so that could change.

Olivia Cooke Star WarsOn the other hand, Olivia Cooke should be well known to movie-going audiences, as she’s appeared in a string of popular movies recently, including The Signal, Ouija, and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. However, Cooke is several years younger than both Tatiana Maslany and Gina Rodriguez, which could be a detriment to her depending on how old the lead in Star Wars: Episode VIII is supposed to be.

No matter who’s ultimately cast, we should have an answer fairly soon as Del Toro let slip that the movie will probably start filming in March. Rian Johnson, writer and director of Looper and The Brothers Bloom, will take on both duties for Star Wars: Episode VIII and Star Wars: Episode IX.

Star Wars: Episode VIII is slated for release on May 26, 2017.

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About the author

Kali O’Rourke

watches more television than anyone she's ever met. Luckily, this has so far served her well in her dream of becoming a television writer. In addition to showing off her knowledge of movie and TV trivia, she enjoys reading, listening to show tunes, and counting down to next Halloween.

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