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Tatiana Maslany, Olivia Cooke, And Gina Rodriguez On Shortlist For Rian Johnson’s ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’

Tatiana Maslany, Olivia Cooke, And Gina Rodriguez On Shortlist For Rian Johnson's 'Star Wars: Episode VIII'

A galaxy far, far away is perhaps no longer just the domain of mostly white male heroes, and one has to credit the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” creative principals for creating a narrative that features a female and Black British as part of the trio of new lead characters. If better representation of diversity and gender equality is already rearing its head in the ‘Force Awakens,’ the positive trend appears to be continuing in adjunct and sequels. “Star Wars: Rogue One” already features a female lead (Felicity Jones) and the rumors about another strong new female joining the new trilogy appear to be true.

The Wrap reports that three actresses are testing for the female lead character in “Star Wars: Episode VIII,” the still-untitled sequel to ‘The Force Awakens’ that Rian Johnson is directing. While it’s all early days of contention, the trade reports Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”), Gina Rodriguez (“Jane The Virgin”) and Olivia Cooke (“Me And Earl And The Dying Girl”) are vying for the role. Of course details of who that character will be are non-existent, but it echoes recent stories suggesting another heroic female lead was joining the new trilogy (and to add our two cents, when we spoke briefly to ‘Episode IX’ filmmaker Colin Trevorrow, he hinted at the same thing).

READ MORE: Watch: New Trailer For ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Flies Into The Galaxy

Betting people might be advised to put their money on Maslany. She tested for “Rogue One” and apparently came fairly close in the auditioning process, but Felicity Jones obviously won out. Those casting agents have surely put in a good word. There’s no mention of Alicia Vikander or “Halt And Catch Fire” star Mackenzie Davis, but for what it’s worth, they’re both outrageously talented and were also vying for that ‘Rogue One’ role. Gina Rodriguez is coming off a Golden Globe win for her work on “Jane The Virgin,” and Cooke also received good notices at Sundance earlier this year.

As hinted at a few weeks ago, Benicio del Toro is coming closer in his negotiations to play a villain in ‘Episode VIII’ and his inclusion would be the rare Latino to be part of the “Star Wars” universe (though Jimmy Smits had a small role in George Lucas’ prequels). It’s nice to see the franchise not just diversifying, but finding great talent to help them do it.

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