Star Wars sequel: Open auditions to be held in UK

By Lizo Mzimba
Entertainment correspondent, BBC News

image captionMark Hamill (r) was an unknown when he won the role of Luke Skywalker

Open auditions are being planned for two lead roles in the next Star Wars film, the BBC has learned.

The casting sessions for Star Wars: Episode VII will start later this week at locations around the UK and Ireland, including London, Dublin and Glasgow.

According to a casting notice the film-makers are looking to fill two roles.

They are a "street smart and strong" orphaned girl in her late teens and a "smart capable" man in his late teens or early 20s.

The open auditions for a "major Hollywood Movie" were first published on the twitter account @UKopencall, which announced a "nationwide search for lead roles for a Disney movie".

Disney bought Lucasfilm, the production company behind the Star Wars series, in October 2012.

In the US open auditions also begin this week according to an online notice. Casting directors will be visiting cities including Nashville and Chicago as well as accepting online applications.

Leaked descriptions

Lucasfilm declined to comment to the BBC but it is likely the characters have been given non sci-fi names and descriptions in the announcement in an effort to disguise the auditions are for Star Wars: Episode VII.

media captionEric Geller: "They're going to be doing a lot of production in the UK... so it makes sense."

The broad nature of the characters is almost the same as in descriptions leaked online earlier in the year when the overall casting process began.

While it is unprecedented for lead parts in a franchise of this size to hold open auditions in this way, Star Wars has in the past given major roles to little known actors and actresses through the traditional casting process, dating back to the original trilogy when the then unknown Mark Hamill won the role of Luke Skywalker.

Other movies have successfully cast secondary actors and actresses through open auditions in the past most notably some of the later Harry Potter films.

And actress Dakota Blue Richards won the lead role of Lyra in The Golden Compass, the film adaptation of Philip Pullman's Northern Lights, through open casting.

Director JJ Abrams, who is also co-scripting the movie, will not be attending the open auditions which begin in Bristol on 9 November. Instead those at the auditions, who must be over the age of 16 for the female role, and over 18 for the male role, will briefly meet members of the casting team of the film.

Star Wars: Episode VII is scheduled to begin shooting at Pinewood Studios in spring 2014, for an expected 2015 release.

More on this story