Tonight, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back comes to life once more.
As part of Jason Reitman’s monthly series of live performances, he will be putting on what is largely considered the best Star Wars movie at the Ace Hotel Theater in downtown Los Angeles tonight. Previously he preformed The Princess Bride, Ghostbusters, American Beauty, and The Apartment, and many others.
Yesterday he announced part of his cast and we’re here to bring you those names, so without further ado, here they are.
Aaron Paul as Luke Skywalker
About this casting choice, Reitman says: “The first thing I had to figure out was who is going to be the voice of Luke. My first instinct was, ‘Who is the actor most like Mark Hamill today?’ But five minutes into that, I’m thinking we already have that, we already have Star Wars as it is. What is the opposite of that?”
Paul is primarily known for his role as Jesse Pinkman on Breaking Bad where he played a very different kind of hero. We’re excited to hear what he does with the role tonight and what creativity he brings to the farmboy from Tatooine turned savior of the galaxy.
J.K. Simmons as Darth Vader
Simmons has been in every Reitman film to date, so this casting is not a big stretch. Currently he’s touted as a superb actor for his role in Whiplash but now he’s about to play the ultimate bad dad.
“He has to be able to be fatherly and evil simultaneously, and no one has explored that idea more than J.K. Simmons in Whiplash,” Reitman says. “Darth Vader is someone who has it within him to cut his own son’s hand off, but not send his son to his death.”
Just don’t expect Simmons to be yelling “Parker!” tonight.
Stephen Merchant as C-3PO
If anyone knows about these read-throughs, it’s Merchant. He played Woody Allen’s character in Reitman’s live reading of Manhattan last year. Now we’ll see him as our favorite persnickety protocol droid. Merchant, according to Reitman, is “tall, gangly, British, and has a great sense of humor,” so he’ll fit into the role with ease.
While we won’t see him in a gold suit, Reitman did joke that it’d be great to make him wear gold teeth. Now wouldn’t that be a sight?
Dennis Haysbert as Lando Calrissian
Everyone’s favorite smooth-talker in Cloud City is coming back and Haysbert has the perfect sense of not-quite-trustworthy confidence.
“Dennis has one of the greatest voices I ever worked with and I had a blast with him on Men, Women, and Children, so he seemed like a perfect fit,” Reitman says.
Kevin Pollack as Yoda
Yesterday we announced Frank Oz would be returning as Yoda but now someone else will take up the mantle as well. Yoda is a legendary character, so we’re curious to see Pollack does with the role, and how he’ll make it his own.
In Reitman’s own words, “Kevin makes interesting choices. Half the time he will do a perfect imitation of the original, and half the time he does something new. I don’t know what to expect. He could sound exactly like Frank Oz, or I could end up with Alan Arkin as Yoda.”
I’d pay just to see that latter performance, honestly.
Once again, the read-through is tonight and there’s still no announcement for Han and Leia, so who would you like to see? The performance is sold out but we’re already eagerly awaiting reviews from it.