Another original cast member is added to "Star Wars Episode 7". Peter Mayhew, who donned Chewbacca suit in the previous "Star Wars" films, is expected to reprise his role as Han Solo's trusty tall hairy sidekick in the next installment.
According to a scoop from The Hollywood Reporter, the casting report emerged after Mayhew canceled a scheduled appearance at Texas convention, Comicpalooza, "due to filming." The event will take place May 23-26, around the same time the film hits the set.
There was once a rumor that the Wookie role was being recast following Mayhew's recovery after he underwent operations on his knees and legs. The 69-year-old actor, however, said back then, "I intend to pursue the role of Chewbacca for Episode VII."
Mayhew's gigantism caused complication that led him being unable to stand up straight or walk unassisted, but he has been recovering from the surgery since then. His journey back to health was documented in "Standing in the Stars: The Peter Mayhew Story".
"Episode 7" has started filming, according to Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn, and the casting is almost complete. Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill are expected to reprise their roles as the classic "Star Wars" trio, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia, respectively.
Ed Speleers ("Downton Abbey"), John Boyega ("Attack the Block"), and two theater actors Matthew James Thomas as well as Ray Fisher are among the casting mix to play a new young male lead, while Adam Driver ("Girls") is hotly tipped to play the villain.
The producers' intention to put together "a cast of unknown" actors was recently explained by Dominic Monaghan. The "Lost" star said, "What he [J.J. Abrams] said was, 'We don't want to fall into that mistake of people going 'Oh it's that guy from that thing!' and then you're completely out of the 'Star Wars' universe.' "
Besides sitting behind the lens, Abrams helped Lawrence Kasdan polish the script drafted by Michael Arndt. The much-awaited movie is set for a December 18, 2015 release. "Star Wars Episode 8" will follow in 2017 and "Star Wars Episode 9" in 2019. Spin-off movies that focus on the "origin stories" are set to be released between the entries.