Even if the films turn out to be terrible, it’s impossible to deny that Lucasfilm has been knocking it out of the park in terms of casting their Star Wars movies. Of course it helps when you have a property that everyone wants to be a part of, but the eclectic ensemble of Star Wars: The Force Awakens—with Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong’o, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, John Boyega and more set to occupy the same screen—is downright brilliant. Then the next Star Wars movie, Godzilla director Gareth Edwards’ spinoff Rogue One, started off on the right foot by casting Felicity Jones as the lead, and now it looks like the studio will continue its run with word that the phenomenal Ben Mendelsohn is mulling over joining Jones in the Rogue One cast.
The folks at Deadline report that the Australian Animal Kingdom actor is “circling” a lead role alongside Jones in Rogue One, which is poised to be the next Star Wars movie after The Force Awakens. The pic is part of a series of “standalone” Star Wars films that Lucasfilm plans to release in between the proper episodes (The Force Awakens is, of course, Episode VII). Rogue One will be followed by Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII, which will then be followed by Josh Trank’s (Chronicle) standalone film.
Mendelsohn is a tremendous actor who broke out with 2010’s Animal Kingdom, which he followed with scene-stealing roles in films like The Place Beyond the Pines, Killing Them Softly, and The Dark Knight Rises. His best work to date, though, is in Netflix’s new drama series Bloodline, which gives him the chance to lead a prestigious TV series all his own. Unsurprisingly he shines, but that he does so in a cast that includes Kyle Chandler, Sissy Spacek, and Linda Cardellini is all the more impressive. I imagine he’ll be smack dab in the Best Actor in a Drama Series race at the Emmys this fall.
Rogue One is on track to begin production this summer after recently replacing screenwriter Gary Whitta—who worked on the project for a year—with Cinderella scribe Chris Weitz, who is currently collaborating with Evans to bring this one home. If Mendelsohn does indeed sign on in a lead role opposite Jones, I’ll be positively giddy. Rogue One is set for release on December 16, 2016.