Entertainment Movies

UPDATED RUMOR: Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Wars: Episode VII

Star Wars: Episode VII

According to Tony Scudder from Film Chronicles, Benedict Cumberbatch has been cast in an unspecified role for Star Wars: Episode VII. Bleeding Cool followed up on it, stating that the site isn’t known for spreading rumors. Total Film included a blurb about how Kathleen Kennedy and Benedict Cumberbatch will be at the Telluride Film Festival and the possibility of hearing a confirmation tomorrow. As of this moment, everything is conjecture. However, there are a lot of signs pointing to this rumor becoming a reality.

Personally, this is a yawn for me. As stated by a close friend of mine, “I think it’s an incredibly boring choice for Star Wars.” Benedict Cumberbatch is known for his phenomenal performance as Sherlock in BBC’s Sherlock. He was also the villain in Star Trek Into Darkness, which we all know was directed by J.J. Abrams. I can’t stress enough how unimaginative and unoriginal this decision would be if an announcement officially tied the actor to the sequel trilogy.

It. Is. Boring.

Here’s some food for thought from writer and producer Jane Espenson, “If we can’t write diversity into sci-fi, then what’s the point? You don’t create new worlds to give them all the same limits of the old ones.

Spoiler alert for Star Trek Into Darkness.

Khan Noonien Singh from Star Trek is believed to be Sikh from the northern region of India. However, he was played by the late Ricardo Montalban, an award winning Mexican actor, who “passed” for that character. Enter Star Trek Into Darkness, a film that recruited a white actor (Benedict Cumberbatch) to play Khan. This is a serious issue in Hollywood today that is often overlooked. The practice is called whitewashing. I will not doubt Benedict Cumberbatch’s acting ability. When I saw Star Trek Into Darkness, he pulled an amazing performance. However, I cannot dismiss the fact that the character was whitewashed.

That said, the characters for Star Wars: Episode VII have no designated background (not that we know of, anyway). Therefore, anything goes. One character can be black, the other can be Asian, and another one can be Hispanic/Latino. Why do they have to be white? Where is the rule book that states that your characters (other than the presumed offspring of Han/Leia and Luke) have to be white?

If the rumor of Benedict Cumberbatch jumping into the Star Wars universe is true, then that is an unimaginative and boring decision on the part of Disney and the crew. Star Wars already has an audience. The sequel trilogy does not need big names to attract the kind of numbers Disney as a business is projecting. Therefore, adding Cumberbatch to the cast robs someone else the opportunity, someone with a diverse background to represent the diverse fanbase. What is the point of having a universe with unlimited adventure and characters and species, if they’re going to be white? This is about equality and imagination, proving that science fiction can break the mold that has been overshadowing minority actors and characters for decades.

Absolutely anyone with talent can portray the casting descriptions for Star Wars: Episode VII. Why limit yourself and perpetuate the status quo? It makes absolutely no sense to me. Instead of moving forward and making bold decisions (because, again, Star Wars WILL have an audience), I feel like society is constantly stepping backwards with no sight or care into the future of representation in media.

UPDATE 9/2/2013, 10:51AM: Concerning the rumor, journalist for Daily Variety, Marc Graser, believes otherwise:

UPDATE 9/3/2013, 2:03PM: Cumberbatch’s rep stated that he’s not involved, according to the Daily News.

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