I, like many people, grew up adoring the original three Star Wars films, but up until recently I couldn’t care less about them. It’s admittedly strange. After all, they are deeply ingrained in my memory, so much so that they’re among a select group of films I could possibly recite from memory given the right circumstances and the right amount of booze. As with other fans out there, my problems with Star Wars started with the prequels. I’ll save the complete deconstruction of those three movies for another exhaustive time (I just need to mention here that I’ve still not even built up the urge to buy the big Blu-Ray set just because you’re obligated to get all three Prequels for the complete package), but they’re such an obvious stain in my mind that they basically ruined any excitement about the original announcement of [Star Wars: Episode VII](movie:711158) for me, something that should have sparked my inner-child to be strong enough to pull the ears off a Gundark.
The prequels were my kernel of pent-up disappointment, but then a seemingly endless rumor cycle about the new films began and none of it made me care more or less. There was the rumored behind the scenes script squabbles with Michael Arndt, the nonsensical debate about what the main storyline could be, the uninspired hints of additional stand-alone character movies, and even the whole mystery box aesthetic of J.J. Abrams. To me, it was all just a disconcerting stew of insubstantial gobbledygook that just made me keep scrolling whenever the news popped up in my Twitter feed, and like I said, with Star Wars it shouldn’t be like that.
Then the casting announcement came.
For whatever reason, that one photo did it for me. It put an end to the chatter and gave me some evidence that Abrams, newly-crowned President of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy, and producer Bryan Burk were actually attempting to bring me and all the other disillusioned fans out of our stupor simply because of the essential emphasis of that first new announcement: The cast. The cast is what made me excited for a new Star Wars movie again, and I didn’t think I’d ever say that. But to me, this new group (including the main actors from the original) is seemingly the perfect mix to revitalize the galaxy far, far away—and two actors in particular are the key.
Until they announce exactly whom the cast will play it’ll be all pure speculation from here on out, but some of us more well-informed people can speculate based on some pretty educated guesses. The best, so far, is Meredith Woerner’s write-up over on io9. She eke’s out potential roles based on the positioning of the cast for the table read in the photo, and I basically agree with her. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Adam Driver will play a/the villain (with Max von Sydow likely to be a Sith or as the Alec Guinness old-timer Jedi proxy), newcomer Daisy Ridley will possibly play a Solo daughter, Domhnall Gleeson looks to be a potential Skywalker or a more comic relief-type character, Andy Serkis is the wild card that will most likely continue his brilliant string of mo-cap performances as an alien creature or some kind, and finally there’s Oscar Isaac and John Boyega. They are, quite simply, the new hope.
Unlike someone like Hayden Christensen or Jake Lloyd, the new movies won’t set out to discover new talent and take the gamble of having it all come crashing down (which it sort of did with those two). Granted, the problem with those movies isn’t solely with the less-than-stellar acting chops of Lloyd and Christensen—God knows who could have even made Lucas’ turgid dialogue in the Prequels sound remotely normal—but it was a very large factor. When it boils down to it, Boyega and Isaac are proven actors who can handle serious drama and rousing action between them, and whose natural talents will bring an external gravitas to the saga instead of having to internally discover that talent. I remember when I first saw Attack the Block I thought to myself that Boyega’s magnetic presence itself deserves to make him a star, and Isaac’s recent performance in the Coen Bros’ Inside Llewyn Davis proved that he could make you like him even if he was a sad sack loser. That said, Isaac himself has a similar fundamental magnetism like Boyega, except in a more devilish kind of way. Together—and with a little help with the rest of the cast—these two will bring Star Wars back to where it needs to be, in a place where the ensemble’s narratives are on the same footing.
There will gladly be no Prequel-itis this time around where we know exactly where each person will end up. Instead it’s all open for another set of Star Wars movies we can be proud of. But then again, I may be foolish for saying it, and I may just be getting my hopes up in the same way I did for The Phantom Menace. I guess I’ll just have to wait for December of next year like everybody else.