'Star Wars: Episode VII' Speculation Centers on Unknown Oxford Actress

Maisie Richardson-Sellers - P 2014
<p>Maisie Richardson-Sellers - P 2014</p>   |   Courtesy of CAM
The production is meeting with actors in London as it tries to find its cast before shooting begins in May.

Could an Oxford-educated actress with no movie credits to her name land a key role in Star Wars: Episode VII?

Speculation is swirling like the mists of Dagobah around newcomer Maisie Richardson-Sellers. Several sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that she is in line to nab an undisclosed and possibly major role in the high-profile Disney/Lucasfilm production, which is in the middle of an extended casting search in London in advance of a May production start date.

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On April 2, Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn told THR that casting for the film was almost complete and some shooting had taken place.

One of the roles yet to be filled is that of a young black or mixed-race woman who may be a descendent of Jedi Knight Ben Kenobi. In the film, which takes place 30 years after the events of 1983's Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, the character would cross paths with the children of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. (Original Star Wars stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are expected to reprise their roles, as is Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca.)

Disney declined to comment, and calls to Richardson-Sellers' U.S. manager Lena Roklin were not returned.

Star Wars filmmaker J.J. Abrams and his casting directors have seen hundreds of actors for the coveted lead roles. The operation is taking place under a cloak of secrecy, with actors and their representatives sworn to secrecy. At the same time, certain representatives have taken to quietly promoting around Hollywood their clients' involvement in the casting process, given the extreme level of interest in the project and the belief that the actors who land lead roles will become instant global stars.  

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As such, all casting speculation must be taken with a grain of salt, and two sources say Richardson-Sellers has not been offered a role.

But industry buzz has begun to coalesce around the British actress, an Oxford student who has appeared on stage in such plays as For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide, Mephisto and There Will Be Red. The actress is repped by Creative Artists Management in the U.K.

Abrams has shown that he isn't afraid to cast young, up-and-coming talent in films such as Star Trek (he cast a then-obscure Chris Pine as Capt. Kirk) and Super 8 (an unknown cast). Roklin's Luber Roklin management company is known for repping young up-and-comers.

Email: Borys.Kit@thr.com
Twitter: @borys_kit