Force Casting - Shadows of the Empire!


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Aug 21, 2021
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Welcome, Rebelscum readers! We’ve been spotlighting Shadows of the Empire this week, the multimedia Expanded Universe project from 1996 that expanded the Star Wars universe across a connected storyline set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Head over to our “Expand Your Mind” article to read up on the full history of Shadows of the Empire, why it’s an important moment in the Expanded Universe, and all the best merchandising items that you will want to look for.

Today, we’re projecting into the future with “Force Casting,” where we’ll be breaking down the idea of Shadows of the Empire characters appearing in more Star Wars projects. Shadows of the Empire was first pitched as a “movie without a movie,” and George Lucas himself has said he would’ve loved to adapt the storyline into a film if he had heard about it during the time of the original series. Who's stopping Disney now?

The story of Shadows of the Empire is certainly poised for a proper adaptation- it could easily become a film, animated special, limited series, or extended drama show for Disney+. Even if Disney is somewhat hazy about bringing in elements of the Expanded Universe, Shadows of the Empire is set within the the timeline of the original trilogy, so it doesn’t face the same concerns of contradicting newly produced material the same way stories like Heir to the Empire, The New Jedi Order, or Legacy of the Force do.

Even if a full on adaptation doesn’t seem likely, there’s certainly room for Shadows of the Empire characters to show up in a future series or film. Projects like the third season of The Mandalorian, Kenobi, Andor, The Book of Boba Fett, and Ahsoka will surely explore the “hive of scum and villainy,” and Shadows of the Empire certainly has some characters that would fit that description. We’ve selected five of our favorite Shadows of the Empire characters and paired them with actors that would be a good fit for the role.

Prince Xizor: Christoph Waltz

Obviously, Xizor is an intimidating villain who commands respect from Jabba, Emperor Palpatine, and the entire galaxy, as his fearsome ways are renowned. However, he’s also a noble who can function within high society, and his fanaticism towards wealth and luxuries make him oddly idiosyncratic and unique among Star Wars villains. An actor stepping into the role would need to be the right mix of scary, eccentric, romantic, and intelligent.
Christoph Waltz has become the go to for Hollywood to cast as villains, but he’s just so great at it that no one has gotten sick of it yet. Waltz may be best known for the iconic Col. Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds, but he’s also managed to be the redeeming part of generally forgettable movies with performances in The Three Musketeers, The Legend of Tarzan, Spectre, and The Green Hornet. Check out the highly underrated comedy Carnage to see him play a much different type of villain. We think he could embody Xizor’s uniquely pretentious (yet also mesmerizing) place within the criminal underworld.

Dash Rendar: Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Dash Rendar was pitched as a new smuggler who could feasibly fill the void left by the carbonite-frozen Han Solo, so an actor approaching the part would want a lot of that Harrison Ford energy while still becoming a unique, distinguishable character. Rendar is much more of a blowhard than Han, and his competitive boasting would feel more irritating if he wasn’t such an incredible pilot. Rendar is also a survivor bitter towards both Black Sun and the Empire, so this lone wolf could make an interesting addition to any of the ongoing Disney+ series.
We’re suggesting Aaron Taylor-Johnson, the MCU’s first Quicksilver who's shown he has the range for a whole plethora of parts. He played meek and nerd in Kick-A**, starred as John Lennon in Nowhere Boy, played a terrifying villain in Nocturnal Animals, believably embodies a veteran in The Wall, and even managed to pop up in Tenet. We think he could slip into Dash’s unique character with ease.

Guri: Amanda Seyfried

Guri is one of the most complex characters in Shadows of the Empire. While she is “designed” to be a blonde bombshell and ally to Xizor, the human replica droid begins to explore her humanity and rebel against her inherent programming. The concept of artificial intelligence questioning their nature and creator is a frequent theme in sci-fi but hasn’t deeply been explored in the new Star Wars universe, and Guri could introduce those concepts to a Disney+ project. You need an actress who can deliver a cold, restrained performance, but can also develop a warmth over time.
Amanda Seyfriend may be best known for her buzzy, charismatic personality from the Mamma Mia and Mean Girls, but she’s shown that she can give nuanced restrained dramatic roles in films like First Reformed, Mank, While We’re Young, and Twin Peaks: The Return.

LE-BO2D9/Leebo: Sharlto Copley

Disney is never going to pass up the opportunity to introduce a new droid, and Dash Rendar’s robotic sidekick LE-BO2D9 (who he calls Leebo) is the exact type of fun addition that it would make sense to reintroduce. Leebo’s memory is rarely wiped by Dash, so as a result he’s adopted much of his owner’s wry sense of humor and provides some comedic relief to the often intense Shadows of the Empire story.
If you’re looking at actors who are experienced doing motion capture work and also have great comic timing, Sharlto Copley has experience doing both. The District 9 star famously did motion capture for Chappie (a movie of debatable quality that nonetheless featured outstanding visual work), but brought more comedic edges to projects like Free Fire and showed his action capabilities in Elysium.

Wrenga Jixton: Jason Momoa

Featured primarily within the comic series, Wrenga Jixton (AKA “Jix”) is the rare Imperial spy who gained the trust of Darth Vader himself. The muscle bound Corellian works directly for the Dark Lord, but his Corellian heritage allows him to infiltrate Jabba’s gang and feasibly disguise himself as a bounty hunter in order to confront Boba Fett.
You need an intimidating physical presence who can also add some dark humor to a situation, so we’re going with Aquaman himself, Jason Momoa. There’s no question to his dominance as a warrior, but Aquaman also showed Momoa’s comedic timing that could help him fit in alongside wisecracking characters like Dash Rendar.

What do you all think? Do you like our suggestions? Who would you cast instead? How would you like to see the Shadows of the Empire characters appear in future Disney projects? Let us know below, and may the Force be with you!