Actor Benicio Del Toro had a brush with playing a Big Bad in an iconic franchise a couple years ago, and it appears that he’s getting a second shot. Per The Wrap, the actor has the offer to play the villain in Star Wars: Episode VIII, which is being written and directed by Looper and Brick filmmaker Rian Johnson. At this point the actor simply has an offer, so it’s unclear if he’ll actually accept. He was previously in talks to play the villain in Star Trek Into Darkness—you know, Khan/Not Khan—a couple of years ago, but abruptly walked away, at which point Benedict Cumberbatch signed on as his replacement. As an added Star Wars tidbit, Variety reports that Joaquin Phoenix met for this same Episode VIII role but opted to pass, so it’s clear they’re aiming high for the part.
Given that secrecy is paramount on Star Wars: The Force Awakens (aka Star Wars: Episode VII), we’re not even sure which characters from that film will be returning for Episode VIII. Since John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac are the main protagonists it’s a safe bet that they’ll be back, just like the Original Trilogy trio, but we don’t know for certain. We also don’t know which of The Force Awakens villains will carry over into the other films. It’s presumed that Adam Driver‘s Kylo Ren is the Big Bad of the new trilogy a la Darth Vader, but again, nothing’s confirmed.
Del Toro is a terrific actor so he’d be yet another swell addition to this fantastic new Star Wars universe. He won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Traffic and has a significant role in the upcoming drug cartel thriller Sicario, which drew raves at Cannes. But Del Toro is also not averse to blockbuster filmmaking as evidenced by his memorable turn in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.
With production on Star Wars: Episode VIII expected to get underway early next year, we should start hearing more casting news as the fall wears on. Kathleen Kennedy is producing Episode VIII alongside Ram Bergman. The film is slated for release on May 26, 2017.