Well, it's been rumored for months, but nothing in the Star Wars universe is official until they put it on StarWars.com. And so, it was thus confirmed over the weekend: Hong Kong superstar Donnie Yen is indeed part of the cast of the upcoming Star Wars spinoff movie Rogue One -- and it looks pretty frickin' awesome.
Rogue One -- The Daring Mission Has Begun: Cast and Crew Announced
Lucasfilm announced that their first film in the new standalone Star Wars film series Rogue One has begun principal photography. Yen joins a rad, stacked cast that includes Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk and Riz Ahmed.
Rogue One, directed by Gareth Edwards, takes place before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and tells the story of resistance fighters who unite to steal plans to the dreaded Death Star.
The filmmakers have assembled a stellar cast, including Felicity Jones, nominated for an Academy Award for her leading role in The Theory of Everything; Diego Luna, who was featured in 2008's Oscar-winning Milk and 2013's Elysium; Ben Mendelsohn, recently nominated for an Emmy for his leading role in Bloodline and co-starring in the upcoming Mississippi Grind; Donnie Yen, Hong Kong action star and martial artist who starred in Ip Manand Blade II; Jiang Wen, who co-wrote, produced , directed and starred in the award-winning Let the Bullets Fly and Devils on the Doorstep; Forest Whitaker, recently featured in the critically-acclaimed Lee Daniels' The Butler and winner of an Academy Award for his leading role in 2006's The Last King of Scotland; Mads Mikkelsen, who starred in The Hunt and was the memorable villain from 2006's Casino Royale; Alan Tudyk, who plays a performance-capture character in Rogue One, stars in the soon-to-be-released Con Man series and Trumbo, which releases this November; and Riz Ahmed, who was recently featured in Nightcrawler and starred in the BAFTA-winning film Four Lions.
"Rogue One takes place before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and will be a departure from the saga films but have elements that are familiar to the Star Wars universe," says Kathleen Kennedy. "It goes into new territory, exploring the galactic struggle from a ground-war perspective while maintaining that essential Star Wars feel that fans have come to know. Gareth is such an innovative director and I'm so excited to be working with him and the extraordinary ensemble cast he's selected for 'Rogue One.'"
If you think about it, the Rogue One story is responsible for launching the entire Star Wars universe as we know it. The plot of the original 1977 film hinges on the stolen plans for the Death Star, the moon-sized space station with the capability to destroy an entire planet. (RIP Alderaan.) This is why Princess Leia's ship is intercepted by Darth Vader at the beginning of Episode IV, sending us off on our adventure in a galaxy far, far away.
This looks damn cool. Rogue One is scheduled for release on December 16, 2016. I'll be first in line!
More here: Star Wars: Rogue One cast announced as fight shifts from space to a ground war