Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy has clarified her comments regarding the recasting of legacy Star Wars characters. After stating it was “abundantly clear” Lucasfilm could not replace certain actors, Kennedy has backtracked and reopened the door — and the uncertainty — surrounding the future of the franchise.
Star Wars feels consistently on troubled ground. A franchise 40 years in the making, of course, has a large fanbase, and over the decades has proven that no content the Star Wars studio puts out can be universally well-received (Empire Strikes Back not included).
Seven years after the lukewarm reception to the prequel trilogy from Star Wars founder, George Lucas, The Walt Disney Company would acquire the franchise, launching this new era of the galaxy far, far away with a brand-new sequel trilogy set 30 years after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi (1983), and the downfall of Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire.
Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens (2015) introduced audiences to Daisy Ridley’s Rey, John Boyega’s Finn, Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron, and Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren. Despite also reprising characters like Jedi Master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), the sequel trilogy would go on to become the most divisive entity in Star Wars history since Jar Jar Binks.
Tossed from JJ Abrams to Rian Johnson and back to Abrams, the sequels divided fans with their polarizing plots, specifically in the latter installments — Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi (2017) and Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker (2019).
The savior of the franchise came just a month before Episode IX‘s release, in the form of a little green “Child” called Grogu, colloquially known as “Baby Yoda”. Along with his “dad”, the Mandalorian Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), showrunner Jon Favreau and Lucasfilm executive, Dave Filoni, started gluing the fandom back together with The Mandalorian. The “Mando-Verse” has since grown with the additions of The Book of Boba Fett, and the upcoming Ahsoka Tano series, Ahsoka.
However, while Star Wars television is anchoring the franchise, Kathleen Kennedy has assured that new movies have been “in movement all along”. Fans will surely be looking forward to new stories and a new saga — in fact, the Lucasfilm President confirmed that Star Wars will be leaving behind the Skywalker saga with Taika Waititi’s untitled movie marking Star Wars‘ return to movie theaters in “late 2023”, a time previously held for Patty Jenkins’ Star Wars: Rogue Squadron.
With new stories, comes new characters. But, Star Wars has proven it cannot resist a call back to its roots. Luke Skywalker has already appeared in both The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, meaning it’s likely that more familiar faces will turn up further down the line.
In an interesting turn of events, Kennedy has backtracked on her comments regarding recasting famous characters. Speaking to GamesRadar/Total Film, the exec. said the following on her previous comments (via CBR):
“I never say never,” Kennedy said. “It’s certainly not something that we’re doing with any intention right now. We’re still talking about Lando with Donald Glover, for instance, but I don’t think we would intentionally just look back at some of the characters like Luke and Leia and whatnot and decide arbitrarily to do a story. There would have to be a really strong reason why.”
Fans will remember Star Wars‘ biggest financial failure and box-office bomb, Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018). The marred production saw Alden Ehrenreich take over the role of Harrison Ford’s Millennium Falcon pilot in a pre-original trilogy standalone Star Wars universe movie, and it seems that Solo may have been the catalyst to Lucasfilm’s decision to not take the rise with a recast actor for future projects.
It was in Solo, too, that Donald Glover made his debut as Lando Calrissian — the character Billy Dee Williams made famous in Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back (1983). Glover could be the exception to the rule, according to Kennedy’s statement.
However, as said above, Kennedy is seemingly referencing the big legacy characters like Leia and Luke. It’s apparent that with their game-changing CGI and de-aging technology, used to create both Luke on Disney+ shows and Leia in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), Lucasfilm and Disney don’t need to take the risk on a new actor when they can recreate the original star digitally whenever they want. They won’t be doing that for the Obi-Wan Kenobi Star Wars series, though, which sees Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor return as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader and Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi, respectively.
The Star Wars story goes on.
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