In Brief

Star Wars: Carrie Fisher claims she had affair with Harrison Ford

Actor who played Princess Leia in both sets of trilogies writes about brief fling

Han Solo x Princess Leia Star Wars

Star Wars 7: trailer for The Force Awakens to be released online

27 November

The first trailer for the hugely anticipated forthcoming Star Wars 7 film, The Force Awakens, will launch online tomorrow ahead of a full release cinema release this month.

The news, confirmed by the official StarWars Twitter account, will come as a relief to dedicated fans who may have been planning to watch the trailer at screenings of the forthcoming children's movie Penguins of Madagascar, paying as much as £13 for the privilege.

The Force is with you on #BlackFriday when #TheForceAwakens teaser hits @iTunesTrailers.

— Star Wars (@starwars) November 26, 2014

Fans have been warned not to expect too much from the trailer. JJ Abrams, the film's director, tweeted that the short will contain just "a tiny peek at what we're working on". He said the trailer would be 88 seconds long; most theatrical trailers come in closer to two and a half minutes.

Some Star Wars buffs expressed relief at the news that the trailer would be released online.

@starwars @iTunesTrailers You've saved me a drive across the state to Miami, so I thank you and my family thanks you!

— Jason Surrell (@JasonSurrell) November 26, 2014

Christmas come early! RT @starwars: The Force is with you on #BlackFriday when #TheForceAwakens teaser hits @iTunesTrailers.

— Joshua Yehl (@JoshuaYehl) November 26, 2014

But others said that they still intend to see it on the big screen.

Seeing it on the big screen as Lucas/J.J wanted “@starwars The Force is with you #BlackFriday #TheForceAwakens teaser hits @iTunesTrailers

— Twiggystar (@Twiggystar) November 26, 2014

By allowing people to watch the trailer on the internet first, Disney "has pulled off a U-turn worthy of the coalition government," The Independent says.

The first of three new Star Wars films is will be released on 18 December 2015.

Star Wars 7 trailer coming soon: what will it contain?

25 November

The official Star Wars 7 trailer will be screened within the next five weeks, reports suggest, provoking excitement and speculation among fans of the films.

Some online forums have suggested that the first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens could be timed to coincide with the latest Hunger Games film, Mockingjay Part 1, but others say it is more likely that it will feature alongside a Disney film.

So how will the Star Wars 7 trailer look? Film blogger Devin Faraci says "reliable insiders" have told him that the trailer will be no more than a minute long, and will feature flashing images of the main characters backed by the force theme played on woodwind instruments.

The music will swell as a full orchestra joins the original instrument and will build towards a soft female voice, possibly that of Daisy Ridley, saying: "wake up".

The short will end with the familiar yellow Star Wars logo and the new film's title, followed by a flash of the Millennium Falcon, firing its weapons, flying straight at the camera, Faraci says.

A Star Wars fan site today claimed that a short animated GIF of the Millennium Falcon could be the first footage from the upcoming film. It was first spotted and uploaded by Making Star Wars, but the site's editors didn't say where it came from or how they got it.

Meredith Woerner from entertainment news site io9 expressed doubts over the footage: "The lens flare feels almost too obvious and the CG looks a little 'meh,' so we're leaning towards no, but it would be cool if it was the real deal," Woerner said. " Then again, again, as Making Star Wars points out, the creators of this mysterious footage did get the radar replacement dish right. So these people know their sh**. And we can't really judge FX on a tiny little GIF."

Disney has not confirmed the rumours, and no details about the forthcoming trailer have been announced on the official Star Wars website.

Star Wars 7 fan posters depict violent twist 

3 November

In the absence of any official Star Wars 7 posters from Disney and Lucasfilm, fans of the series have stepped into the breach with stunning, high-quality artwork for the upcoming film.

No official plot details have been released, leaving fans to speculate on the possible directions the space saga may take.

Many of the fan-made posters imagine that the Empire may again strike back, disrupting the peace established by the rebel alliance.

Some put popular bounty hunter Boba Fett front and centre. Others seem to hint at a new villain to replace Darth Vader.

Below is a collection of some of the best posters, retweeted by fans around the world.

A cool fanmade poster for #StarWarsEpisodeVIIpic.twitter.com/JB7lYLRyxA

— Donversal (@Donversal) September 14, 2014

Check out this awesome fan-made poster for #StarWarsEpisodeVII! It comes out December 18, 2015! - Nick C. #StarWars pic.twitter.com/B5lVJcHElx

— Y108 Rocks (@Y108Rocks) September 6, 2014

HOLY CRAP! Is this the Teaser Poster for #StarWarsEpisodeVII???? pic.twitter.com/rvNUbREdOE

— JJ on Flow93.5 (@torontojj) September 25, 2014

Fan made #StarWarsEpisodeVII poster, based on one of the rumors, by hobo95. http://t.co/LDglWtVWi5 pic.twitter.com/V2W6VEN6q9

— Ed Torres (@ed_pool) August 27, 2014

Fan made #StarWarsEpisodeVII movie poster with cast images photoshopped into it! #StarWars pic.twitter.com/XD0Juk90BM

— The Daily SuperHero (@DailySuperHero) June 24, 2014

@saamwilson are you happy with the Episode VII casting? #StarWarsEpisodeVII (the poster obv fan made but brilliant) pic.twitter.com/fzPAGh7CSG

— Daniel Dutson (@DanielDutson) April 29, 2014

That movie is going to be too real sheesh. “@DevlinDinish: Star Wars 7 fan poster pic.twitter.com/m5nyUAOZ5O

— Phillip Pearson (@philthethrill89) February 28, 2014

@OfficialWars#BobaFett STAR WARS FAN MOVIE POSTER BOBA FETT EPISODE VII #StarWars pic.twitter.com/BWJuvS5Lxg@ainokoori

— Matt (@NEPatsFan2969) March 25, 2014

Star Wars 7: leaked concept art reveals new clues

30 October

​​​​For a film production subject to so many non-disclosure agreements, Star Wars Episode 7 has had its fair share of leaks, but the latest one seems to reveal more about the hotly anticipated forthcoming film than the rest put together.

Unverified concept art hints at new villains, exotic locations including desert and ice planets, and a large number of new heroes and vehicles.

A source from popular rumour site Star Wars Underworld claims the images are legitimate, but nothing has been officially confirmed.

One of the pictures seems to resemble the Greenham Common set, which was caught on film by a fan piloting a drone. The aerial footage shows the Millennium Falcon and two partially built X-wing fighters, the Daily Telegraph reports.

There is also an image of a cyborg holding Darth Vader's helmet. MoviesWeb speculates that the image may actually be a future incarnation of Luke Skywalker.

One picture seems to depict Daisy Ridley's character (rumoured to be named Kira) wielding a light-saber. The image "sheds new light on the character's relationship with Max von Sydow's character, who is said to be an older cyborg who recognises the light-saber Kira finds and helps propel the story forward," MoviesWeb says.

All this #StarWars concept art is killing me #StarWarsEpisodeVII I'm pretty sure this Jedi is Daisy Ridley pic.twitter.com/y3c39cb1n4

— Cyrus (@CyFi444) October 16, 2014

On Tuesday a new concept picture came to light depicting a cyborg-like villain holding an unusual new light-saber that features the weapon's traditional blade as well as two short guards above the handle.

Has the Star Wars villain been revealed? pic.twitter.com/2RiewiNL1p

— Sideshow Raheem (@SomeLikeItKrump) October 29, 2014

According to Star Wars Underworld, the leaked images were initially received with scepticism, but slowly "different independent sources have come out and confirmed that this art is indeed legit".

One of the website's regular sources, Jay Carlson of Indie Revolver, also confirmed the legitimacy of the new villain: "I respect their hesitation to claim any authenticity related to the image – it’s nice to see some restraint with Star Wars news on the internet. However, I can confirm that not only is this legitimate production art but that this particular concept made its way through pre-production and into the film. This character and his light-broadsword have filmed scenes in England", Carlson said.

Below are some of the images retweeted by Star Wars enthusiasts around the world.

Chewie has a bionic arm in #StarWars #EpisodeVII! Awesome new concept art reveals this & more> http://t.co/4bdb0nLTpE pic.twitter.com/Lto97wSRpD

— ScreenRelish (@ScreenRelish) October 15, 2014

Leaked 'STAR WARS: EPISODE VII' Concept Art! #HYPE! (2/4) pic.twitter.com/RPEmLdCW3z

— Superhero Report (@SuperheroReport) October 15, 2014

Some very cool #StarWars Universe concept art. pic.twitter.com/37SHaYNQFL

— will mccrabb (@mccrabb_will) September 29, 2014

Incredible collection of leaked concept art from Star Wars Episode VII -- http://t.co/FnzHZZZujx #StarWars pic.twitter.com/4wlQa6f53J

— Ms. ausretrogamer (@msausretrogamer) October 16, 2014

Spoilers: Enormous amount of new Star Wars: Episode VII concept art! http://t.co/CER2oukvXJ pic.twitter.com/rz2AbCRz0U

— JoBlo.com (@joblocom) October 17, 2014

Star Wars 7: filming to finish in three weeks

21 October

The filming of Star Wars Episode 7 is just three weeks from completion, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has revealed.

Once the cameras have stopped rolling the film will go into post-production. The footage will be edited, and special effects, sound and the score added ahead of a scheduled release in December 2015.

Kennedy made the announcement last week at the opening of the Industrial Light and Magic studios in London - its first studio in the UK – where the sci-fi blockbuster will take shape.

The film production company was originally set up by Star Wars Creator George Lucas in 1975 to "pioneer groundbreaking special effects", The Guardian says. It was purchased as part of Disney's £2.4bn takeover of Lucasfilm in 2012.

The announcement is good news for Star Wars fans anxious for the film to stay on track for release next year after filming was suspended for two weeks in July when Harrison Ford was injured on the set. According to reports at the time, Ford's accident occurred when a spacecraft door on the Millennium Falcon fell and broke his leg.

The opening of the new studio "continues a long tradition of Star Wars movies being made in London", Kennedy said. "It goes back to 1976, and to know that we are now coming back and we will be making the movies once again based out of Pinewood, and now we're looking to put together this studio, it's rather remarkable that this has all come together in less than two years," she said.

Given the enormous interest in the production, it is "incredible that the crew has managed to keep its plot (mostly) under wraps", The Independent says. However, there have been unconfirmed plot leaks that suggest the story will begin with new comers John Boyega and Daisy Ridley's characters discovering Luke Skywalker's severed hand from The Empire Strikes Back and going on a quest to find the old Jedi master.

Last week, original Star Wars actor Warwick Davis revealed in a tweet that he will return for the new film.

I've been waiting over a year for this phone call… http://t.co/tZ7pSpFm2V #JJ

— Warwick Davis (@WarwickADavis) October 16, 2014

Other cast members returning for the sequel include Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Kenny Baker and Peter Mayhew.

Star Wars Episode 7 is set for release on 18 December, 2015.

Star Wars Episode 7 features 'hundreds' of stormtroopers

24 September

Star Wars fans have had perhaps the most tantalising glimpse yet into the latest instalment of the beloved sci-fi series. Cast member Oscar Isaac has told Entertainment Weekly that there are "hundreds of Stormtroopers on set".

The news is significant for two reasons: first, it suggests the Empire is – so to speak – striking back. Second, it's yet another indication that Abrams is shunning the CGI which many fans feel made the last three instalments so anodyne.

In the Start Trek mythos, Stromtroopers – named after a WW1 German army service – are a clone army created by the evil Emperor Palpatine. They dominate the first three films, made from 1977 to 1983, and their return will delight old-school fans.

But the news that there are "hundreds" of extras on set playing the soldiers is also revealing for the many fans who were disappointed with the later films. It's the latest sign that Abrams is keen to avoid using computers to generate sets and extras.

Isaac said: "There's a lot of enthusiasm [on the set] and it's being done with a lot of heart. There's nothing cynical about the way we're doing this".He added: "Even in the way [Abrams] is shooting it – he's shooting on film and actually building the sets, so you've got hundreds of Stormtroopers, or whatever, and hundreds of extras and all the ships. You actually see it. It's all real."

Anthony Daniels, the British actor who has played the robotic interpreter C-3PO in every Star Wars film, said last week that he has been back inside a robot suit for the movie, reports The Guardian. In the more recent prequel films, Daniels was replaced by a digital version of the character in action sequences: "It wasn't very good. In fact, I'm going to say it was awful. With me [in the suit], he's always going to move the same way and have the same reactions, timing and so on.

"With CGI, you're working with some brilliant person on the keyboard who is trying to pretend to be me."

After a brief visit to the set, film director Kevin Smith revealed how detailed and extensive the props built for the film are. Rather than an empty room with a green-screen background, he said the set looked like "a shot right out of a f****** Star Wars movie".

 

Star Wars Episode 7: fans quarrel over new X-Wing - video

22 July

Fans have descended into name calling and recrimination after director JJ Abrams revealed a new-look for the famous X-Wing Starfighter that will feature in the forthcoming Star Wars Episode 7 film.

In a video promoting a Unicef fundraising programme Force for Change, Abrams can be seen standing in front of a life-sized model of a battered-looking futuristic fighter jet.

But the footage caused a furious debate, with passionate Star Wars enthusiasts quarrelling over whether the vehicle was not, in fact, an X-Wing, but a lesser-known spaceship called a Z-95 Headhunter.

The official Star Wars Twitter feed soon weighed in on the discussion to confirm that the ship is an updated version of the X-Wing piloted by Luke Skywalker in the original film trilogy.

@CDCanimation It is in fact an Episode VII X-wing, not a Z-95.

— Star Wars (@starwars) July 21, 2014

The decision to use real props rather than computer-generated ones "will surely please Star Wars purists", says Mashable's Lance Ulmanoff, many of whom objected to the use of CGI in the trilogy of prequels that brought George Lucas's involvement with the Star Wars universe to a close.

X-Wings are known for being able to split their wings, known as S-foils into four, to form an x shape. Fans were confused by the fact that the plane in the new clip seemed only to have two engines, rather than four. But another tweet from Lucasfilm showing original concept art from Ralph McQuarrie helped clear up the misunderstanding.

#McQuarrieMonday - Look familiar? pic.twitter.com/vwRHyV3VAi

— Star Wars (@starwars) July 21, 2014

Since May, the Force for Change fundraiser has attracted donations from fans in 119 countries who have given more than $1 million hoping for the chance to visit the London set of Episode 7 and appear in the film.

Star Wars Episode 7: Film crew 'spotted in Forest of Dean'

9 July

The arrival of a large film crew at Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean has prompted rumours that Star Wars: Episode 7 is currently shooting scenes in Gloucestershire.

In a BBC video report, journalist Steve Knibbs shows that Puzzlewood's car park has been taken over by "Winnebago after Winnebago" as a high-security film crew arrives to shoot material for an unspecified project. He also reports that the production's security team and the park's owner refused to "confirm or deny anything" about the crew's suspected connection to the Star Wars.

The Forest of Dean has been used previously as a filming location for Doctor Who, Merlin, and Atlantis, but Knibbs says "this is no ordinary TV series or film here".

Even though the project's identity remains a mystery, critics are speculating about which planet might make use of forest scenery in the new Star Wars film. The Independent hypothesises that scenes could be "set on the Ewok planet Endor or in the Dagobah system".

Both fictional planets were highly significant locations in earlier films. Dagobah was Yoda's sanctuary in The Empire Strikes Back, and the final battle between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance was fought on Endor in Return of the Jedi.

"With its lush greenery and twisted trunks, Puzzlewood might be being used for the Ewoks' home or Yoda's place of refuge, or might be a new planet we've never seen before," the paper suggests.

The film is still scheduled for release on December 18, 2015.

Star Wars Episode 7 casts two young unknowns

7 July

Disney and Lucasfilm have cast two young unknown actors for the hotly anticipated Star Wars sequel after open auditions held in the UK and the US.

American actress Crystal Clarke and British actor Pip Andersen have been cast in "lead roles" from a pool of over 67,000 applicants.

Around 37,000 hopefuls attended casting calls that spanned 11 cities across the US and UK. A further 30,000 more candidates submitted applications online, StarWars7News.com notes.

"The Star Wars universe has always been about discovering and nurturing young talent and in casting Episode VII we wanted to remain absolutely faithful to this tradition," said producer and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. "We are delighted that so many travelled to see us at the open casting calls and that we have been able to make Crystal and Pip a part of the film".

Clarke is currently studying in Glasgow, UK, and will soon appear in her first feature film, The Moon and the Sun, which will be released in 2015. Andersen is a professional Parkour free-runner who recently starred in a Spider-Man advertisement for Sony.

Unknown actors have been cast in previous instalments of the Star Wars saga, the BBC notes: "It dates right back to the first Star Wars film in 1977 when the then unknown Mark Hamill secured the starring role as Luke Skywalker". The actor went on to appear in the film's sequels, The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and the Return of the Jedi in 1983. Hamill will reprise his most famous role again in Star Wars Episode 7.

Disney and Lucasfilm confirmed that principle photography is still underway at Pinewood Studios in London after wrapping on location in Abu Dhabi in May.

In August the production will pause for two weeks to allow actor Harrison Ford to recover from the [4]leg injury he sustained during filming. In spite of the setback, producers insist that the picture remains on schedule for release on December 18, 2015.

Star Wars Episode 7: Harrison Ford to film 'from waist up' after injury

17 June

Harrison Ford may be forced to film "from the waist up" after suffering an injury to his ankle on the set of Star Wars Episode 7, his son has said.

The actor is suspected to have broken his ankle after a hydraulic door fell on him during filming at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire. Ford was airlifted to the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford for treatment.

His son, Ben Ford, told Yahoo! News that he understands his father may need a plate and screws put into his ankle, and that the injury could take up to eight weeks to heal.

In a statement last week, Disney announced that filming would continue while Ford convalesces.

A source told The Mirror: "The initial day or two after the accident it was hard to move things around but now we have had more time we can juggle things, bring some scenes forward and push others back".

According to the Daily Telegraph, Ford's wife, the actress Calista Flockhart, flew to the UK to be with her husband after the accident.

Reprising his role as Han Solo, the 71-year-old Ford is one of the members of the original cast returning to JJ Abrams' sequel, which will be the first film released since Disney bought the rights to the franchise from George Lucas in 2012. Episode 7 will also star Mark Hamill, playing Luke Skywalker, and Carrie Fisher, playing Princess Leia.

It is thought that the new film will be set 30 years after Return of the Jedi. The picture is set for release in December 2015.

Star Wars Episode 7: Harrison Ford 'breaks ankle' on set

13 June

Harrison Ford has injured his ankle on the set of Star Wars Episode 7 at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire. The 71-year-old was airlifted to the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford yesterday, where he is recovering while filming continues, Sky News reports.

The accident was caused by a falling door, with some reports saying it was a hydraulic door of the sci-fi franchise's Millennium Falcon spaceship. The BBC says a "garage door" crushed the actor, breaking his ankle.

The star of the first three films is appearing again as Han Solo in the latest instalment of the long-running series, now owned by Disney. Spokesman Paul Roeder said filming would continue on schedule while Ford recovers.

According to the Daily Mail, Ford's chest was also crushed when a hydraulic door fell on him – and he is awaiting results of further tests to determine the extent of the injury.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said: "Just after 5pm, officers were called to Pinewood Studios. A 71-year-old man was injured in an incident believed to involve a garage door.

"He was airlifted to John Radcliffe Hospital where his injuries are not thought to be life-threatening. The Health and Safety Executive have been informed and will look into it."

The new film is being directed by JJ Abrams, whose 're-boot' of the Star Trek franchise was well-received. Filming began in Abu Dhabi in mid-May.

Star Wars spin-off to be filmed in UK, reveals George Osborne

11 June

The first Star Wars standalone movie is to be filmed in Britain, Chancellor George Osborne has gleefully revealed on Twitter.

The spin-off will be filmed at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, where Star Wars: Episode VII is currently in production.

The Daily Telegraph describes it as a "major coup" for the Chancellor, with American film makers taking advantage of UK tax incentives to make movies in the UK.

On set of Episode VII tonight, can announce another #StarWars film will be made in UK. A #LongTermEconomicPlan in a galaxy far far away

— George Osborne (@George_Osborne) June 10, 2014

Osborne was visiting the set at Pinewood when he posted the news, along with a photograph of himself with Episode VII director JJ Abrams, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and character R2-D2. He later said the new spin-off would mean "more jobs and more investment" for the UK.

Kennedy has said the UK crew working on the seventh episode of the franchise are "incredible" and "among the most gifted and passionate" when it comes to film and storytelling. "Star Wars couldn't be in better hands," she said.

The as-yet-untitled spin-off, directed by the UK's Gareth Edwards, is due in cinemas on 16 December 2016. Insiders predict that it will feature one of the original trilogy's most popular characters: Boba Fett, Han Solo or Yoda.

Sajid Javid, the Culture Secretary, who has previously outed himself as a Trekkie, described Osborne's announcement as "great news" for the UK and "further proof of the world-leading position of the UK film industry".

He added: "We have studios, tax incentives and talent, both in front of and behind the camera, which are amongst the very best in the world. Given Lucasfilm’s decision to film another Star Wars movie in the UK, it is clear that the Force is strong here."

According to the Treasury, the UK gives 25 per cent tax relief on the first £20m of qualifying film expenditure, and 20 per cent thereafter.

Star Wars Episode 7: Lupita Nyong'o and Game of Thrones star join cast

3 June 

Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong'o and Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie have joined the cast of the upcoming Star Wars Episode 7 movie.

Nyong'o's performance in the hit film 12 Years a Slave earned her an Oscar this year for Best Supporting Actress.

The actress took to Twitter to express her excitement, tweeting: "I can finally say it loud and proud: I am going to a galaxy far, far away!"

I can finally say it out loud and proud: I'm going to a galaxy far far away! http://t.co/b39DjEEAzB

— Lupita Nyong'o (@Lupita_Nyongo) June 2, 2014

British-born Gwendoline Christie plays the Amazonian Brienne of Tarth in the hugely successful fantasy drama series Game of Thrones, but "has had little exposure to cinema audiences so far", The Guardian notes. This will change after the release of the next two episodes of the Hunger Games series, in which Christie plays the rebel leader Commander Lyme.

In a statement on the official Star Wars website Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said, "I could not be more excited about Lupita and Gwendoline joining the cast of Episode 7. It's thrilling to see this extraordinarily talented ensemble taking shape."

The Hollywood actresses will join a cast that includes relative unknowns such as John Boyega and Daisy Ridley alongside more familiar faces including Adam Driver and Max von Sydow, plus the trio of stars returning from the original saga: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill.

Filming began on April 7, and the expected release date is 18 December 2015.

Star Wars 7: Abu Dhabi crew 'reveal Episode VII secrets'

15 May

ABU DHABI'S English-language newspaper The National has published the "first images" of Star Wars: Episode VII taken surreptitiously in the Abu Dhabi desert. 

The photographs, shot in the dunes near Qasr Al Sarab resort, show workers moving large-scale props between white tents.

One of the props appears to be "a giant, round, grey disc, which bears a striking resemblance to parts of an escape pod on which C3P0 and R2D2 crash-landed on Tatooine in the original, 1977, Star Wars: A New Hope film", the National says. But Movie Pilot believes the same prop is in fact "a nearly-complete Imperial Walker (AT-AT) foot".

According to Movie Pilot, Disney has "reinforced security" to avoid further leaks. But yesterday the National ran a new story with more information from its anonymous sources, who said the desert-based sets are "getting closer to completion, with a 'whole world' having been built on an otherworldly salt lake at one location, [featuring] a 'shuttle-like' spacecraft, a large tower, a 'big, centuries-old-looking market', something the crew are reportedly referring to as the 'alien house' and ten to 15 'really fast buggies' powered by jet engines".

The paper reports that two lorries filled with explosives arrived on the site this week and that technicians from the UK and the US are "applying the finishing touches" as shooting begins.

Fan sites are reporting that members of the original films will take part in the Abu Dhabi shoot, which is expected to last for three weeks.

To reprise her role as Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher has "lost 40 pounds", CNN reports. Fisher's mother, Debbie Reynolds told Extra: "She's been on a diet ever since [she was cast in the film], because you know they have to be up to par, so she looks terrific. She's very excited, as we all are, because we all love Star Wars."

Meanwhile, Harrison Ford is being tipped to be one of the two main characters in the film, alongside one of the "trio of young stars", Entertainment Weekly reports.

Star Wars 7 cast: what do the critics make of the new faces?

30 April

DIRECTOR JJ Abrams has assembled a cast of relative unknowns to star alongside Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill in the hotly anticipated new Star Wars film, which is set to begin filming next month.

Since the actors were announced, critics have scrambled to assess the young cast.

So who are the next generation of Star Wars stars? And, crucially, are they any good? Read our summary of what the critics make of the new faces entrusted with the future of George Lucas's long-running space epic.

John BoyegaWho is he? A 22-year-old British actor best known for his role in sci-fi film Attack The Block. He is expected to be one of the sequel's "trio of young leads".What do the critics say? In its review of Attack the Block, The Guardian says Boyega lends his tough character "poignancy" and says the young actor is capable of producing "heart-wringing" vulnerability. Total Film describes Boyega as "charismatic".

Daisy RidleyWho is she? A young British actress who has had roles in Mr Selfridge and Casualty. Some believe that Ridley will play either a daughter of Han Solo and Princess Leia, or a member of the Kenobi family.What do the critics say? Very little has been written about Ridley's previous acting work. In a profile on the actress that describes her as "the Star Wars mystery woman", Mashable says that Ridley is "a 5-foot-7 jazz singer, dancer and strong swimmer with dark hair, and a native London accent". A short sci-fi film starring the young actress can be seen in full on Vimeo.

Adam DriverWho is he? One of the leads in HBO's hit show GirlsThe Independent says he is likely to play "a Darth Vader-like antagonist".What do the critics say? Rolling Stone says that in Girls, Adam Driver "bicycle-kicked his way into our hearts as the boyfriend you love to hate". Interview magazine notes that the 30-year-old has an impressive list of theatre credits. "I'm like a sight gag", Driver said in an interview with the New York Times – "I have this really big face".

Oscar IsaacWho is he? Isaac is an American actor who recently starred in the Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis.What do the critics say? Roger Ebert praised Isaac's "haunting conviction" in Inside Llewyn Davis. The Observer agrees and says he was "terrific in the lead role, a picture of downtrodden grouchiness who manages to be both engaging and obnoxious, someone who doesn't deserve our sympathy but gets it anyway".

Andy SerkisWho is he? You may not know his face, but you almost definitely know his performances. Serkis played Gollum in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, and King Kong in Peter Jackson's 2005 remake, and is widely considered to be one of the best motion capture artists in the world. He is tipped to use those skills to portray some kind of alien.What do the critics say? Serkis has been awarded a number of (admittedly lesser) accolades for his performances over the years including an Empire Award, a National Board of Review Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award for his motion capture work. Playing Gollum "changed the course of my career", Serkis once told the Independent

Domhnall GleesonWho is he? Gleeson is probably best known for having played Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter films, but he has appeared in a number of other films since.What do the critics say? Gleeson was nominated for a Tony Award at the age of 25 for his part in the Broadway production The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Reviews were mixed for Gleeson's role in last year's Richard Curtis romantic comedy About Time, but the Daily Telegraph praised his comic timing and said he managed to strike "a Goldilocks balance between gawky and handsome".

Max von SydowWho is he? The most well-known of the newcomers, the 85-year-old Swedish actor has a long and distinguished Hollywood career including roles in The Exorcist, Robin Hood, Judge Dredd and Dune. He has also played a Bond villain and Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon and worked extensively with Ingmar Bergman. He is likely to play a baddie.What do the critics say? Roger Ebert says that Max von Sydow's casting in The Exorcist was both perfect and inevitable. "He has been through so many religious and metaphysical crises in Bergman's films that he almost seems to belong on a theological battlefield the way John Wayne belonged on a horse", Ebert said.

Returning from previous Star Wars films are: Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and Kenny Baker (R2-D2).

Star Wars 7 'to tell story of Han Solo and Princess Leia's children'

1 April

THE upcoming Star Wars 7 movie may follow the family of Han Solo and Princess Leia, and eventually dovetail into a plot about Luke Skywalker's son Ben, insiders suggest.

Cinemablend reports that casting calls and announcements by Disney, which mention a "trio of young leads", may indicate that Star Wars 7 will focus on the Solo family, including their three children: twins named Jacen and Jaina and their youngest son, Anakin.

After the success of George Lucas's original trilogy of films, the Star Wars universe was spun out in books and comics written by numerous writers. Some of the stories followed the exploits of the original films' main characters, along with their future progeny, providing a potential template for the films.

The Daily Beast reports that in 2012 Timothy Zahn, a "sci-fi legend" who penned a number of Star Wars books, told Entertainment Weekly: "The original idea as I understood it — and Lucas changes his mind off and on, so it may not be what he's thinking right now — but it was going to be three generations... and if there was another seventh, eighth, or ninth film, it would be Luke's children."

So what might happen next? According to the Star Wars canon, as relayed by Wookieepedia, Han Solo and Princess Leia marry almost immediately after the defeat of the evil Galactic Empire in the final film, Return of the Jedi. The peaceful years that follow the fall of Darth Vader and the Emperor are disrupted, however, when a new enemy known as the Yuuzhan Vong invades the galaxy and Han Solo and Luke Skywalker join up once again to head into battle.

A later plot follows the story of Han Solo's twin children. Like his grandfather, Darth Vader, Jacen begins his career as a promising young Jedi knight, fighting valiantly in the Yuuzhan Vong War. But after his brother Anakin is killed and he is taken hostage and tortured, Jacen turns, gradually, to the Dark Side. Eventually Jacen Solo takes over the galaxy and becomes a tyrannical ruler.

How will his twin sister Jaina react? And how will Luke Skywalker's son Ben play a part? At present, only the series' incoming director JJ Abrams can say.

Star Wars VII 'will return to ice planet Hoth'

24 March

THE next film in the Star Wars series could include scenes on the ice planet of Hoth, last seen in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, according to reports.

Filming is not officially set to begin until May but Icelandic news site Visir reports that the Star Wars crew may begin work on scenes in Iceland as early as next month.

Hoth was the setting for an epic clash between the rebel alliance and the evil Galactic Empire, led by Darth Vader. The battle between rebels and the imperial forces on the snowy planet is one of the best loved sequences in the sci-fi series.

Director JJ Abrams has filmed in Iceland once before, recording "plate shots" for the 2013 picture Star Trek Into Darkness, Visir says.

Plate shots are background images, often used alongside green screen recordings or computer animation to create composite sequences that superimpose actors or props over a particular setting. If it does go ahead, filming in Iceland is expected to capture background imagery of this kind for Star Wars VII.

Icelandic film production company True North has been linked to the project. Members of the Star Wars crew were reported to be scouting for locations in Iceland alongside True North in October last year, although True North declined to comment on any involvement with the picture.

Disney and Lucasfilm have also released no new information about the upcoming film since the revelation last week that Star Wars VII would be set 30 years after Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

Many believe that the new films will see the return of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill in their roles as Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker.

Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o and Girls star Adam Driver have also been tipped for roles in the new film.

Star Wars VII to be set 30 years after last film

19 March

THE next film in the Star Wars series will be set 30 years after Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

Walt Disney's CEO, Bob Iger, confirmed the setting at a meeting of the company's shareholders on Tuesday. The new film will also feature a return of the robot R2D2, but executives remain tight-lipped about other casting decisions.

JJ Abrams, the creative force behind some of the most popular sci-fi films of the last decade will direct and co-write the new film that will star "a trio of new young leads along with some very familiar faces", according to the official Star Wars website. Industry insiders have tipped Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong'o and Girls actor Adam Driver for roles.

Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill are expected to reprise their roles as Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker. Another Hollywood heavyweight touted for a lead is Harry Potter and Batman actor Gary Oldman.

According to The Guardian, actors who have already auditioned include Zac Efron and Saoirse Ronan. Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Fassbender have also been linked with key roles.

Filming will begin in two months' time at London's historic Pinewood Studios.

The six previous movies in the Star Wars series were devised and directed by George Lucas and have taken almost £3bn in cinemas worldwide since the first film was released in 1977.

Star Wars Ep 7 rumours: who will star in new film?

14 February

CHIWETEL Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch are among 15 actors rumoured to have bagged a role in the new Star Wars film, written and directed by J.J. Abrams. The original trio of Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) and Harrison Ford (Hans Solo) are also almost certain to reunite for the film, which is set for release in September 2015. Leaked information from Drew McWeeny on film website HitFlix apparently revealed that the script is complete and that filming will begin at London’s Pinewood studios later this year. He said: “Multiple sources now have confirmed for us that Star Wars Episode VII is set to start shooting mid-May and will run through September of this year.”

He also claimed that “most principal casting on the film is complete”. Another Hollywood heavyweight touted for a lead role is Harry Potter and Batman actor Gary Oldman. “They’ve called,” said the 55-year-old this week during an interview with Sky Movies. "I don't know if it’s, er … You know, I'm more cynical about it now,” he said. “I'll believe it when I'm on the plane home. The deal isn't done, but yeah, they've inquired.” The only officially confirmed cast member is Kenny Baker, who will reprise his 1977 performance as R2D2. We’ve put together a list of all the actors who’ve been linked with the film:

Almost certain

Carrie Fisher let slip in an interview that she, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford will reprise their original roles, although it has not yet been officially confirmed by Abrams.

In the running

According to the Guardian, actors who have already auditioned for roles include:

Zac EfronSaoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones, Hanna)Michael B Jordan (The Wire, Friday Night Lights)

In talks

Actors reported to have had talks with JJ Abrams about a role in the film include:

Gary Oldman Benedict CumberbatchMichael FassbenderChiwetel EjioforSimon PeggJack O’Connell (Skins, Game of Thrones)Alex Pettyfer (Magic Mike, I am Number Four)Sullivan Stapleton (Animal Kingdom, The Hunter)Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad)Adam Driver (Girls)

It is thought that the full cast list will be released in the next couple of months.

Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens - is this how Han Solo dies?

Fans of the Star Wars franchise continue to pick over thelatest instalment from that galaxy far, far away, forensically analysing StarWars: The Force Awakens for signs of what may be to come in the next two films.

One question that continues to pique the interest ofsuper-fans is why Kylo Ren idolises Darth Vader.

[b]Warning: spoilers ahead.

In The Force Awakens, Ren wears a black helmet similar tohis dead grandfather, Darth Vader, and seems intent on tracking down his uncle,Luke Skywalker, with the apparent intention of killing him.

So what made the young man decide to pursue the ambitions ofhis grandfather?

In an interview with IGN, Star Wars 7's director JJ Abramsappeared to shed some light on the matter.

"Kylo Ren idolises Darth Vader, not Anakin Skywalker[Vader's original name]," he said. "He idolises what Vader representsand what Vader was trying to do. And the idea that Vader didn't succeed, if youlook at it from Ren's point of view, he was seduced by the enemy and failedbecause of that seduction. So the idea is that Ren wants to complete the thingthat Vader started."

Ren found he was in possession of "an incredible power,an incredible force  and incredible potential that was, like many youngpeople, sort of misguided and unclear. And the story for him is one ofconflict, not just internal conflict but external conflict. And it's what makeshim a rather interesting villain," adds the director.

[1] http://www.ign.com/videos/2015/12/18/jj-abrams-explains-why-kylo-ren-turned-to-the-dark-side

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