'Star Wars Episode VII' Cast Background: Getting to Know the Newly Announced Actors

By Matthew Buzzi , Updated Apr 29, 2014 07:12 PM EDT

The official cast list for Star Wars Episode VII has finally been revealed, ending the speculation over which actors would make appearances in the famous franchise. Some relative unknowns have joined the film as promised alongside some established names.

Combined with the returning actors from the original films, the complete cast is a varied and interesting one. I think most selections are more likely to have fans asking 'who?' than causing them to be upset, which (I think) is preferable.

To help with this, below is background on the relatively short careers of some of the individuals on the list, as well as information on the longer careers of others who are also new to Star Wars.

I'll start with the younger, less experienced group: John Boyega is a 22 year old British actor who has had only a handful of acting jobs so far beyond appearances on the odd TV episode. His most successful role is his performance in 2011's Attack the Block, in which he played the character Moses. The film was well-received, and his performance largely praised. Boyega was the first name listed in the announcement, so he may have a major part in the coming film.

One of the new actresses listed is Daisy Ridley, who has had even fewer roles so far in her burgeoning career. A few appearances on various TV series are the only characters on Ridley's resume aside from a short film, making her one of the least-known individuals on this list. Abrams and crew must have loved what they saw in auditions, because there isn't a lot of material to go on from the past!

The more experienced actors begin with Oscar Isaac, another name on the list that's new to Star Wars. He's not quite a superstar, but the Guatemalan actor has had several roles in major films such as the Oscar-nominated Inside Llewyn Davis, Drive, Robin Hood, and Sucker Punch. He may play a supporting role as seen in some of those films, but be prepared for the possibility of him playing a bigger role as well.

 Max von Sydow is certainly the elder statesman of the group, but another who's new to the franchise. The 85 year old has been acting since the 1940's, acting in such films as the original The Exorcist as Father Merrin. More recently, he had roles in Minority Report, 2010's Robin Hood, Shutter Island, and voice work as Esbern in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Adam Driver, who has been appearing in a number of highly praised films as well as the HBO series Girls, is also part of the cast. Driver played Al Cody in 2013's Inside Llewyn Davis, and portrayed Samuel Beckwith in the Oscar-winning Lincoln. He obviously has some legitimate acting chops and is to me one of the more surprising names on the list.

Everyone's favorite CGI voice actor Andy Serkis will also be making his Star Wars debut. Serkis is most famous for his portrayal of Gollum/Smeagol in the Lord of the Rings series, in which he provided both the voice work and motion capture movements. He is also behind Caesar in the recent Planet of the Apes films and has appeared in many other movies such as The Prestige and The Adventures of Tin Tin.

Domhnall Gleeson rounds out the cast, and he'll be recognizable to anyone who has seen Harry Potter. The Ireland-born Gleeson plays Bill Weasley in the films, one of Ron's older brothers. Additionally, he starred alongside Rachel McAdams in the charming 2013 romantic comedy About Time.

That concludes the last of the actors who have not been part of a Star Wars production in the past. It's an interesting mix, and it will be even more intriguing to see how Abrams uses each of them--I suspect we won't hear more about that for a while. Star Wars Episode VII is due out some time next year.

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