Disney and Lucasfilm announced that a new Star Wars trilogy was on the way back in October of 2012, but details have been slow in coming. Today, however, director J.J. Abrams and the rest of the production announced the key cast members of Star Wars: Episode VII.
The biggest news is the return of the trio of actors that defined Star Wars for a generation: Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Harrison Ford as Han Solo, and Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa. However, all three were relative unknowns back in 1977 when Star Wars hit screens. Following in that same tradition, many of the performers Abrams has assembled for Episode VII wouldn't be considered household names. Let's take a look at some of the faces we'll be seeing in theaters on December 18th, 2015.
Update June 2nd, 1:00PM: We've added Lupita Nyong'o and Gwendoline Christie to our gallery after today's announcement.
- Lupita Nyong’o rocketed to the global stage last year thanks to her brilliant turn in 12 Years s Slave — a role that earned her an Oscar for best supporting actress. Her casting is just one more sign that J.J. Abrams is pulling out all the stops to fill his film with tremendous actors; hopefully they'll be working from a script that matches their talents. (Photo courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.)
- Gwendoline Christie is best known to audiences as Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones. We don't know what role she'll be playing in Episode VII, but we wouldn't complain if she ends up as a Jedi: we already know how well she handles a sword. (Photo courtesy of HBO.)
- John Boyega was a relative newcomer when he was cast as a gang leader in the UK horror film Attack the Block, and he's been impressing audiences and critics ever since. We'll get a preview of what he'll bring to the Star Wars universe next month when he appears in 24: Live Another Day. (Photo courtesy of Screen Gems, Inc.)
- Audiences have grown familiar with Adam Driver thanks to his performance in Girls as Hannah Horvath's erratic boyfriend. According to the latest rumors we'll be seeing him as a villain in Episode VII. (Photo courtesy of HBO.)
- Oscar Isaac earned rave reviews for his performance in Inside Llewyn Davis, but the actor has been working his way up the ranks for years, snagging smaller roles in movies like Sucker Punch, Drive, and The Bourne Legacy. (Photo courtesy of CBS Films.)
- Daisy Ridley has just a handful of credits to her name. More than any other actor in the cast, she's a mystery — which we're sure suits J.J. Abrams just fine.
- Max von Sydow simply needs no introduction. A veteran actor, he has appeared in everything from The Seventh Seal and The Exorcist, to Shutter Island and Minority Report. While we don't know what role he'll be playing, we'll just say it: he'd be the most menacing Sith Lord this side of Christopher Lee. (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.)
- Domhnall Gleeson is an Irish actor who has appeared in movies like True Grit, but he really caught our attention with an emotional performance in Richard Curtis' latest film About Time. Audiences at large, however, may recognize him as the eldest Weasley brother in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.)
- You may not know his face, but you know Andy Serkis. He's the actor and motion capture performer behind Gollum, King Kong, and Caesar in the new Planet of the Apes films. When it comes to bringing CG characters to life, there's simply no one better. (Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore / Flickr.)
- For many, the key ingredient that made Star Wars work was Han Solo. The confirmation of Harrison Ford's return is some of the best news today — but let's hope it turns out better than Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. (Image courtesy of Summit Entertainment.)
- Carrie Fisher had all but confirmed that she would return as Leia Organa, but today it's official. We already know that Episode VII won't be following the expanded universe novels, so where Leia and Han are 30 years after Return of the Jedi is anyone's guess. (Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore / Flickr.)
- Since Star Wars, Mark Hamill has made a name for himself as a prolific voice actor — including an iconic take on The Joker. (Photo by Sascha Steinbach / Getty Images.)
- Seen here in a promotional still from Revenge of the Sith, Anthony Daniels has been the man behind C-3PO since the very beginning. (Photo courtesy of Lucasfilm.)
- Kenny Baker has worked with everyone from Terry Gilliam to Jim Henson over the years, but for Episode VII he's returning to his most iconic role: R2-D2. (Photo by M. Tran / FilmMagic)
- Peter Mayhew and his 7-foot, 3-inch frame, have always been behind Chewbacca's mask. Here we see the actor — now 69 — in a publicity still from Revenge of the Sith. (Photo courtesy of Lucasfilm.)
- The Star Wars: Episode VII table read at Pinewood Studios. Clockwise from writer-director J.J. Abrams: Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, producer Bryan Burk, Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver, and writer Lawrence Kasdan. (Photo by David James, courtesy of Lucasfilm.)