The Force Awakens is not yet even here and it seems that there is already room for speculation about its sequel. Just this week, several sources have mentioned that the Oscar-awarded actor Benicio del Toro has been offered a role for Episode VIII. And not just “a” role, but a role of “a villain”.
Benicio del Toro is known largely for his portrayal of gangster-like characters and corrupt policemen in films such as Sin City or Traffic (which was the one for which he received an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor). He has become involved with Disney recently in the Guardians of the Galaxy, where you might have seen him as the Collector.
There has been no further confirmation from official sources about the role Del Toro could take and whether he will actually take it. We do not know whether the role of the villain will be big or small and how will it fit into the plotline set by The Force Awakens. If Disney wanted to recycle some tropes present in the previous trilogies, it might be possible to imagine Del Toro’s character making an entrance similar to that of Emperor Palpatine in Empire Strikes Back – that of another, major villain, who wasn’t even present in the first film. If we don’t hear more about this role by the time The Force Awakens comes to cinemas, I would certainly keep my eyes and ears open during the film for hints regarding possible hidden evil masterminds. Another possibility is that Del Toro’s character would have just an episodic role, similar to that of Darth Maul or Count Dooku. And maybe we should understand the term “villain” in terms of more “gangstery” characters, which is, after all, where Del Toro seems to be the most at home. So maybe we can look forward to him portraying a new version of someone akin to Jabba the Hutt or Boba Fett, someone linked to the criminal underworld which, as we know, is fairly rich in the Star Wars universe. Whatever the case, it is easy to imagine Del Toro in line with the classic Star Wars villains who are known for their distinctive voices, from Vader through Palpatine, Dooku and the Fetts. His voice is certainly charismatic and would not pale next to these giants.
Episode VIII itself is scheduled for May 2017, so there is a long wait ahead. Before it, we should still see the Anthology film Star Wars: Rogue One. The stand-alone film should focus on the story of the Rebels’ capture of the Death Star plans – the turning momentum which directly led to the beginning of Episode IV. Kathleen Kennedy, the president of Lucasfilm, has confirmed at the San Diego Comic Con that the filming of Rogue One is officially starting in the upcoming weeks. All in all, it seems like we have a lot to look forward to.