Benicio Del Toro and Laura Dern Join ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’

Disney is bringing in the big guns for Star Wars: Episode VIII, as Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro and recent Oscar nominee Laura Dern join the cast. But good luck getting any info on their characters.

Although production on Episode VIII just started, Disney is playing this close to the vest. Granted, there’s no guarantee that Episode VIII will have a giant, spoiler-ready moment like The Force Awakens had, but Disney would rather nip spoiler hounds in the bud right now, rather than having to sentence them to the guillotine later.

But back to the casting. Del Toro is one of the most talented actors of his generation, and I don’t say that just because we’re both Puerto Rican. Del Toro won an Oscar for Steven Soderbergh’s 2000 drug epic Traffic in the Best Supporting Actor category. Although he missed out on a nomination this year, he was considered a major threat throughout the awards season for his role in Denis Villeneuve’s critically-acclaimed Sicario. Dern, meanwhile, was an Oscar nominee just last year for Best Supporting Actress in Wild, opposite fellow nominee Reese Witherspoon (who has an Oscar of her own for 2005’s Walk the Line). More recently, Dern also delivered a stellar performance in 99 Homes, one of the most underrated films of the last year.

Together, Del Toro and Dern will be joined by newcomer Kelly Marie Tran, a member of the Upright Citizens Brigade comedy troupe in Los Angeles who’s appeared in everything from NBC’s About a Boy to several videos on Funny or Die and Jimmy Kimmel Live. Call me crazy, but it might be Tran’s role I’m most curious about, since you’d think it’d be comedic, but it’s hard to know what they’re even going for with this movie: will this mirror Empire Strikes Back in the same way The Force Awakens mirrored A New Hope? Or will this movie really deliver on the dark, “weird” vibe that co-writer Lawrence Kasdan promises? If nothing else, with Brick and Looper director Rian Johnson signed on to helm the film, it seems they’ve got the right team in place for a unique blockbuster.

Star Wars: Episode VIII hits theaters on Dec. 15, 2017, and it can’t come soon enough.

Benicio Del Toro and Laura Dern Join 'Star Wars Episode VIII' Cast

Credit: Lionsgate / Postmedia News

So what roles do you think the new cast members will play? Sound off in the comments!

And for more on Star Wars: Episode VIII, watch video from the very first day of production on the new movie, complete with a harrowing shot of an old favorite!

Movies Casting NewsLaura DernNewsStar Wars