Earlier this week, we reported a rumor that Gugu Mbatha-Raw was in talks for a role in Star Wars: Episode VIII. This evening, Collider reports she has landed the role.
"Tonight, we can exclusively report that Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Beyond the Lights) is joining the cast. While negotiations can always break down and nothing is official until Disney announces it, we feel confident in our reporting."
From Jupiter Ascending. Image via blackfilm.com
Mbatha-Raw is not a well-known name to general audiences, as many of her most notable roles have been in low-key films like Beyond the Lights and Belle. She also had a small part in the science fiction/fantasy flick, Jupiter Ascending. Having seen her performance in the period piece Belle, in which she was the main star, I think she would make an excellent addition to any film’s cast. Mbatha-Raw would also continue the welcome trend of more diverse casting choices for the sequel trilogy (The Force Awakens, by itself, will have more main female characters than any of the previous six Star Wars films combined).
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This report brings to mind a rumor from a few weeks ago that actresses Olivia Cooke, Tatiana Maslany, and Gina Rodriguez were on a shortlist to be cast in Episode VIII. Their screen tests reportedly involved determining the chemistry each star had with main The Force Awakens actor, John Boyega. Matt Goldberg from Collider points out that Tatiana Maslany has accepted a role in another film, and is therefore probably out of the running for Episode VIII.
Did Mbatha-Raw beat out Cooke and Rodriguez, or has she been testing for an entirely different role? As always, we’ll have to wait for official confirmation from Disney and Lucasfilm. Hopefully, by the end, we’ll have at least two new actresses for Episode VIII instead of just one.
If Collider’s report proves to be correct, then Mbatha-Raw will be joining Benicio del Toro in the cast of new characters for Episode VIII.