Until now, production has more or less continued on Star Wars: Episode VII – My Dinner With Chewbacca, despite Harrison Ford learning all too well that the Millennium Falcon still has a few surprises left in her. But over the weekend, that rearrangement of the shooting schedule to allow for Ford’s recuperation finally hit a wall, as the production officially announced a two-week hiatus starting in August. And yet, Disney and Lucasfilm still remain confident that the movie will meet its December 18, 2015 release date, and that Ford will be returning “soon,” in time to wrap in the fall and point his finger angrily at the spaceship, ordering it to stay away from him and his family.
Perhaps not coincidentally, their announcement was preceded by the welcoming of two new cast members culled from that worldwide open casting call and the more than 67,000 people who responded, submitting audition videos that J.J. Abrams and his buddies now put on late at night to laugh at when they need to unwind. Those who made the cut are Crystal Clarke, an American stage actress based in Glasgow who’s set to make her movie debut in next year’s The Moon And The Sun; and Pip Andersen, a British (obviously) actor who is also “a skilled practitioner of parkour,” as seen in this Spider-Man commercial.
Though the casting call was for characters named “Rachel” and “Thomas”—both attractive, athletic, street-smart kids with shitty lives—the announcement makes no mention of who Clarke and Andersen are playing; obviously, this all but confirms that Episode VII plans to meet its deadline by having the two play Harrison Ford’s leg. Most likely, the more grounded, classically trained Clarke will be playing Ford’s femur, the “meat” of the leg. Meanwhile, Andersen will assume the demanding role of Ford’s tibia and its attached knee and ankle joints, which require the extreme flexibility of someone skilled in parkour.
Casting two human actors to play Harrison Ford’s leg, rather than simply giving him a new, wisecracking CGI leg, definitely speaks to Abrams’ commitment to practical effects—something that was recently reaffirmed by Kevin Smith, who now spends most of his days running onto the sets of upcoming blockbusters and hugging their directors. After pulling Zack Snyder close to him over the design of the new Batman suit, Smith recently talked about traveling to London to get Abrams in his embrace, saying, “I cried and I hugged that guy” after seeing the “tactile world, a world you can touch” that Abrams is building. “He’s replicating it with all the love of someone who has the world’s greatest collection of Star Wars figures,” Smith added. And just like when your leg broke off one of your own Star Wars figures, Abrams knows you can just grab a leg from somewhere else to jam in there.