Sorry for the long headline, but there’s no simpler way to say it. Tatiana Maslany is apparently already testing for the lead in Gareth Edwards’ Star Wars spin-off, with Mara coming in sometime this week. For those of you keeping track, this is the first of two spin-off films that will be released in alternating years between the “Episodes.” This is also the entry that just lost Garry Whitta as a screenwriter after quit a bit of development on his part. That’s supposedly an amicable split, so no need to freak out.
Felicity Jones is also on some kind of short list, but there are no concrete plans in place for her just yet. She’s also tied up with the Dan Brown adaptation Inferno and may not be able to make it work with her schedule. We’ll see, especially if she winds up winning an Oscar a month from now.
A lot of people are taking this news to mean that the film will have a female lead, but I’m not seeing that anywhere in the original Hollywood Reporter article. It’s not to say that things won’t shake out that way, but any headlines putting that front and center should be taken with a grain of salt at the moment. These actresses are testing for the female lead, not the lead, which is an important distinction to make.
That said, this is really promising. Maslany is my personal choice among the three. Her range is really terrific and she’s just enough of a fresh face to work in this universe the same way the original trilogy and sequel trilogy casts were designed to do. If she’s got a great character to play, then she’s going to be associated with it forever and hopefully have a franchise to pay the bills while she does more interesting work in the margins. People make too much of Orphan Black (it’s like a cross between a SyFy and BBC show), but never about her abilities as an actor. There’s a justified reason why people are becoming evangelical about her. She’s that good.
Mara, in my opinion, is already exactly as famous as she’s going to be. There’s no franchise that’s going to take her to the next level. She’s been very good in the past, but I bet most of you have already forgotten that she was Oscar nominated for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I mean, the Hollywood Reporter doesn’t mention it in their article, even though they’re quick to point out Jones’ nomination, so at least one person forgot. And then there’s the Tiger Lilly whitewashing thing, which very few people seem to be cool with. It’s hard to say how that’s going to effect her in the long run (if at all), but it’s the movie’s battle to win at this point. Most importantly, I think we know exactly what we’d be getting if Mara takes the role and that makes her difficult to root for. I’m ready to have my wig peeled back by these new movies and the further we get into the unknown, the better the chances are of that happening. Call Mara one-note maybe (I don’t think it’s as bad as all of that), but for some reason I can’t see her bringing anything special or new to the table.
And I have no opinion on Felicity Jones. I can’t bash her or The Imitation of Everything, because I haven’t seen it yet. Either way, she may be great as Alan Turing’s wife in The Theory Game, but I wouldn’t know.
The release date for this is untitled film is December 16, 2016, so I guess we’ll know who got this sooner rather than later. What do you think? Who should they cast in this role, about which we know nothing?