If “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” seemed too much like a slavish recreation/homage to the original trilogy, then its follow-up seems to be going in a less conventional direction. Not only is it being written and directed by a genuine eccentric — “Brick” and “Looper” maven Rian Johnson — it just scored Laura Dern, too.
The two-time Oscar nominee, five-time Emmy nominee and three-time Golden Globe winner was announced today, on the Star Wars site, as one of the cast’s newbs, along with newcomer Kelly Marie Tran and Benicio del Toro, whose involvement had already been teased. Dern and Tran’s roles are, of course, super hush-hush, though del Toro will be playing either a villain or the main villain.
Both Dern and del Toro should bring not only excellence but, in the latter case especially, genuine weirdness, being an actor who goes to strange places like the unforgettable bit in “Basquiat” where, after severing ties with Jeffrey Wright’s titular downtown New York artist, he gets out of his car and starts doing push-ups on the street for no discernible reason than why not?
This is not Dern’s only gig in a revived, beloved commodity. She’s also in the new season of “Twin Peaks,” which reunites her with David Lynch, her director on “Mulholland Dr.” in which she may have given the performance of 2006.
The as-yet-titled “Episode VIII” begins shooting today. It will come out on Dec. 15, 2017. Oh, and there’s already a super-preliminary teaser (which is mostly a close-up of Mark Hamill looking like he’s in a mountain man movie and a shot of the very talented Rian Johnson calling “cut”):
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter@mattprigge