With more and more leaks plaguing the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Disney/Lucasfilm appears to be focusing more and more attention–not to mention hype–on the forthcoming sequels and Star Wars spin-off films. As buzz around Episode 7 hovers around repetition and in the words one of one insider, “more of the same,” it appears Disney is ready to retool the series, staring with Episode 8.
That comes in large part thanks to the casting of Benicio Del Toro in Star Wars 8, with the actor said to step into the role of the villain. That comes as somewhat of a shock, considering The Force Awakens introduced four new villains–Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). That would imply that at least one character could be dropped from the sequels, either because he gets killed off, or because director Gareth Edwards is retooling the storyline. Similarly, a new female lead is being sought for Episode 8, suggesting that Rey, played by newcomer Daisy Ridley, might get sidelined from her original role.
In the same vein, actor Peter Cushing looks to make a big screen comeback twenty years after his death. Cushing played Grand Moff Tarkin in the original Star Wars film, though he met with an untimely death following the destruction of the first Death Star. The character made a brief appearance in Revenge of the Sith, though did not speak. Today, word is that Cushing will be revived via CGI and archive footage, much like Marlon Brando in Superman Returns or Laurence Oliver in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. George Lucas had envisioned using the same techniques for Revenge of the Sith, but found footage of Cushing unusable at the time. Tarkin is apparently set to return in the spin-off adventure Star Wars Rogue One, set before the events of the original film. The plot follows Rebel spies as they steal the plans for the Death Star, which sets the original plot in motion.