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What The Cast Of Rogue One Tells Us About The Movie

Another year, another Star Wars movie. After 2015's box office smash Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Disney is wasting no time creating the next entry into the space saga, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The new film—the first of the studio's planned spin-off installments—is set to debut in December 2016. Unlike The Force Awakens, the new film takes place before the events of the original Star Wars film, A New Hope (1977). It focuses on a ragtag group of Rebel fighters whose mission is to steal plans for the Death Star. Very little about the film is known aside from the casting and director, Gareth Edwards (2014's Godzilla). We, however, can infer a few things details based on the casting alone...

Martial Arts Action

The filmmakers' choice to cast Donnie Yen (Iron Monkey, Ip Man) leads us to speculate that Rogue One will deliver a heavy dose of martial arts action. For the uninitiated, Yen is a famous Hong Kong action star/martial artist/choreographer. His casting seems to fit with Rogue One's focus on ground combat rather than dogfights among the stars or in the sky. It's also worth noting that Rogue One takes place before Luke Skywalker's resurrection of the Jedi. This likely means a grittier, less fantastical fighting style.

Villain Identified?

Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen has proven himself a compelling, charismatic villain on multiple occasions (Casino Royale, TV's Hannibal). Sure, it's typecasting, but we nevertheless expect Mikkelsen to play if not a villain, than certainly a darker character in Rogue One. His cold, calculating performances of the past are a perfect fit for an Imperial lackey.

Strong Female Lead

As with The Force Awakens, it seems that Rogue One will feature an exciting female lead, front and center. This is evidenced by the casting of Felicity Jones. She is perhaps best known for her Academy Award-nominated performance as Jane Wilde Hawking in the Stephen Hawking biopic Theory of Everything (2014). It is doubtful she would choose Rogue One as a follow-up project if the script did not similarly feature a three-dimensional character that allows the actress to demonstrate her talents.

Much-Needed Levity

Again, it seems that Rogue One is taking its cues from The Force Awakens by adding some levity to the drama and action. This is opposed to the rather stern, dry Star Wars prequels that George Lucas wrote and directed. Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil) seems to have been cast for this very reason. Tudyk has shown himself to be a charismatic actor who can inject a great degree of humor into a film. At the same time, he is also capable of delivering a memorable dramatic performance. As he will be playing a motion-capture character, this latter ability will hopefully prevent his character from straying into Jar Jar Binks territory. 

Voice Of Wisdom

We strongly believe that Disney cast Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland, and an IMDb listing as long as your arm) as either a Rebellion general and/or mentor figure for Rogue One's heroes. Whitaker is certainly an actor with a great degree of range. Yet, given the other cast members and their specific talents, it seems pretty likely he will appear as an authority figure of some sort. Comic relief, he probably is not...