Star Wars hopefuls attend open auditions in Bristol

media captionStar Wars hopefuls share their tips from auditioning in the first open call for two lead roles in the next Star Wars film

Hundreds of people have been queuing at a Bristol arts centre since the early hours for open auditions for parts in the next Star Wars film.

Producer Lucasfilm is seeking two actors for roles in the forthcoming Star Wars: Episode VII.

The parts are for a "street smart" girl in her late teens and a "smart capable" man in his late teens or early 20s, according to the casting call.

Further casting sessions will take place across the UK and Ireland.

The auditions, taking place at Bristol's Arnolfini, saw many hopefuls queuing up in the rain from 04:30 GMT onwards.

By 10:30 so many people had turned up organisers had to close the line.

'Can't not audition'

"This is something I grew up with and it's massive - it's a massive deal," said Ben Millier, from Frome in Somerset.

"You can't not audition for this if you're in the age range, if you fit it, because it's just a big deal."

Alex Rambo, a hopeful from Bristol, said if there was the "slightest chance - it's all worth it no matter how long you have to queue for".

And Tom Millineux, who had also been queuing for several hours, said he "couldn't resist the temptation" despite his "absolute lack of acting experience".

But there have been complaints the auditions have been a "complete shambles" with people being turned away after they were told casting had been closed for the day.

"My son spent two hours travelling this morning, arrived at 10:30 - at 10:45 they shut the doors," Hayley Mogridge said.

"He then waited in line a further two hours in the rain - he is now going to spend his student loan on a cheap hotel for the night to attempt round two."

Anna Brown said: "Two young people I know set off to these auditions this morning but were turned away as there were too many people and the queue had been shut down.

"Sorry but that is appalling. "

Unprecedented opportunity

Star Wars: Episode VII is scheduled to begin shooting at Pinewood Studios near London next spring, with the film due to be released in December 2015.

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".

Lucasfilm has since confirmed the auditions are for the next Star Wars film.

Disney bought Lucasfilm, the production company behind the series, in October 2012 for £2.6bn ($4bn).

Open auditions also begin this week in the US, according to an online notice.

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

Casting directors will be visiting cities including Nashville and Chicago as well as accepting online applications.

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 through the traditional casting process.

That dates 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.

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 new Star Wars movie, will not be attending the open auditions.

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.

Glasgow, Manchester, Dublin and London will host open auditions throughout November.

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