NEW YORK (AP) — “Star Wars: Episode VII” finally has its stars. May the Force be with them.
After months of carefully guarded secrecy and endless Internet speculation, the cast of the latest incarnation of the space epic was unveiled Tuesday on the official “Star Wars” website by Lucasfilm and the Walt Disney Co.
Starring in J.J. Abrams’ new “Star Wars” are: John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Max von Sydow, Andy Serkis and Domhnall Gleeson.
The companies declined to name the characters each will play, though Driver, the breakout star of HBO’s “Girls,” is widely expected to be playing the film’s feature villain.
They join returning “Star Wars” veterans Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. Peter Mayhew is also back as Chewbacca and Kenny Baker will reprise RD-D2.
“It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again,” director and co-writer Abrams said in a statement. “We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud.”
Disney will release “Star Wars: Episode VII,” which will be set 30 years after 1983’s “Return of the Jedi,” in December 2015. Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, and immediately put a new “Star Wars” trilogy into development.
The “Episode VII” cast is a mix of fresh faces, up-and-comers and established names.
The 22-year-old British actor Boyega is best known for the 2011 science fiction monster movie “Attack the Block.” Ridley, also a young British actor, is largely unknown. She has appeared in several British TV series, including “Mr. Selfridge.”
Like Driver, Isaac is a recent breakout star, following his acclaimed performance in the Coen brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis.”
The 30-year-old Irish actor Gleeson has appeared in numerous films, including 2012’s “Anna Karenina” and both parts of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” He’s acted frequently on stage, earning a Tony nomination in 2006 for his performance in “The Lieutenant of Inishmore.”
The British actor Serkis is famous for his digital shape-shifting, playing Gollum in the “Lord of the Rings” films and the titular gorilla in “King Kong.” It’s widely speculated that he’ll again trade on his specialty of using performance capture to craft a digital character.
Von Sydow, the 85-year-old Swedish legend of “The Exorcist” and “The Seventh Seal,” will presumably add the kind of gravitas Alec Guinness brought to the 1977 original.
Scoring “Episode VII” will be John Williams, who created the original trilogy’s famous themes.
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jake_coyle