This ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’ Casting Shortlist Could Change Everything

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is still several months away from hitting theaters, but casting news regarding the next installment in the iconic series has fans buzzing, potentially shedding new light on the plot of the upcoming film.

[Potential Spoilers For The Force Awakens And Star Wars: Episode VIII Ahead]

The Wrap reported yesterday that three actresses have been named to a shortlist for an as-yet-unrevealed female role in Star Wars: Episode VIII. The trio consists of Gina Rodriguez, Tatiana Maslany, and Olivia Cooke, and according to the Wrap, their status as favored contenders has been confirmed with “multiple individuals familiar with the casting situation.”

Star Wars: Episode VIII is still very early in its casting process, these insiders caution, so the singling out of the three actresses must be taken with a grain of salt. Reportedly, Director Rian Johnson still has several other actresses who still need to read for him before the process moves forward. One of the more telling parts of the report, however, details a planned chemistry read for the trio that is supposed to take place in the next month. If the details are correct, this read-through may have notable implications for the plot of the upcoming third Star Wars trilogy.

According to the report, the planned chemistry read will take place with The Force Awakens star John Boyega. Though Disney declined to comment on the report, the details as related could reveal certain plot points. Firstly, that Boyega’s character, the lightsaber-wielding Finn, will survive through The Force Awakens and retain his central role in the next Star Wars film. More importantly, Finn has often been pictured with Daisey Ridley’s Rey in the promotional material for The Force Awakens, suggesting that their storylines are intertwined. If Boyega is doing a chemistry read with another female actress, it suggests that either their plotlines diverge in the trilogy, or that Rey may not make it through the seventh Star Wars, as io9 points out.

All of this is conjecture, of course, and hardly the only conclusion that has been drawn based on the casting report. Fans have also postulated that the female role could be Han Solo’s daughter, who they believe will be introduced in the film. With news that Benicio Del Toro is narrowing in on a deal to play the villain of Star Wars: Episode VIII, fan speculation is only likely to increase as the release date of The Force Awakens nears.

[Photo by Jesse Grant / Getty Images]