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With his appearance on tonight’s episode of The Graham Norton Show, Benedict Cumberbatch has re-opened a conversation that folks thought was long closed – the prospect of his involvement in Star Wars Episode 7, due December 18 next year.
And there’s no reason why not. With fellow inhabitant of Middle Earth Andy Serkis playing an as yet undetermined role in the film and his Star Trek Into Darkness director J.J. Abrams behind the camera, it’s still not beyond the bounds of reason that he could play a part, despite filming almost being at an end.
Just last week it was announced that Warwick Davis would be joining the production, marking his third Star Wars movie.
But go back a year and the prospect of Cumberbatch playing a part in the film seemed a real possibility. Indeed, he was rumoured to be playing the lead villain, with a number of sites suggesting that his part could be a descendent of Count Dooku, Christopher Lee’s character in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
Cumberbatch denied the rumours, and as time rolled on the question stopped being asked. But now, that door is once again open.
So, if he is involved then what part could he play, so late in the production?
Logic says that it would be a relatively minor role, but looking back through the history of the saga so far that might not necessarily be the case.
In the original Star Wars back in 1977, while the mighty Dave Prowse inhabited the costume of Vader, a job which took many months to film and design, James Earl Jones voiced the character.
But in 2014 a lead villain like Vader could just as easily be built in the computer.
It’s clear that Abrams far prefers the practical approach of having ‘real’ characters on set – animatronics and masked actors. But Cumberbatch could be voicing a leading villain, in much the same way that he voiced Smaug in The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug and this December’s The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies.
And it’s worth remembering that James Earl Jones recorded his Darth Vader dialogue in just a few short hours during post production.
But here’s another thought. In the much maligned first prequel, The Phantom Menace, Ian McDiarmid spent the majority of the movie playing the role of Chancellor Palpatine, the much respected senator for Naboo. But he also played the role of Darth Sideous, a role with minimal screen time but HUGE impact in the movie.
Cumberbatch could easily arrive at the tail end of filming and shoot a live action role, taking a minimal amount of time but with the maximum impact.
Whichever way it goes the fan sites will be buzzing today with the news. Bringing a popular and respected actor like Cumberbatch into the production once again raises the bar.
And with the aforementioned Andy Serkis appearing in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies, Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Episode VII, actors appearing in multiple franchises is becoming increasingly common.