Rumor: Gugu Mbatha-Raw Testing for Star Wars: Episode VIII Role


Before we’ve even reached the fever peak of rumors and speculation regarding Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the cycle is already starting up for its sequel, Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII, which recently began filming.

A shortlist of actresses being considered for the Episode VIII lead role surfaced last month, telling us that Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) and Olivia Cooke (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) were in talks.

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Now, according to a Latino Review article, not only are there actually two female lead roles available, but there’s a fourth actress who has auditioned: Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

Her most high-profile role probably came in last year’s Jupiter Ascending, a unique science fiction film directed by the Wachowski Bros. Looking at her IMDB page, she’s also played in Belle and Beyond the Lights, and she’s set to appear alongside Will Smith in the film Concussion, which focuses on the NFL.

Mbatha-Raw, a British actress, played a small but sinister role in Jupiter Ascending as an assistant to one of the main villains. I’m not too familiar with her other roles, but perhaps she’ll be one of the first female Star Wars villains to show up  onscreen?

Still, it’s great to see that the Episode VIII cast is looking to be more diverse than its predecessors, including Rogue One. Hopefully, the rest of the new films follow the lead.

We don’t know too much about Episode VIII at this point, other than that John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac will definitely be returning. Benicio del Toro is also set to star, but he’s been coy about whether he’s playing a villain. Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen will also be appearing. The film’s already started shooting in Ireland, but it’s not due in theaters until May 26, 2017.

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