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Thursday , September 24 2020

‘Star Wars’ spin-off on Jedi master Obi Wan in the works – Jackson, Usher to star in ‘Shaft’ sequel

LOS ANGELES, Aug 19, (Agencies): Oscar-nominated filmmaker Stephen Daldry is in early talks to direct a “Star Wars” spin-off about Jedi master Obi Wan Kenobi, US media reported on Thursday.

There is no script yet and no actor lined up to play the bearded warrior and sage made famous by the late Alec Guinness in the original series of films.

Ewan McGregor, who played Kenobi in the much-maligned prequel series, will be an early favorite for the role, although at 46 he might be a stretch if the film concentrates on the character’s formative years.

The Hollywood Reporter said Daldry, nominated three times for best director Academy Awards, would be part of the team overseeing the development and writing if the deal were to go ahead.

Lucasfilm, which is owned by Disney, is in the middle of a trilogy of “anthology” films running in the even years alongside its main trilogy, which falls in odd years.

“Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” (2015) — the first release in the main saga for a decade — was followed last year by “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” — the first of the spin-offs.

“Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” is due for release in December and will be followed in May next year by an as-yet untitled “Han Solo” standalone movie.

That film, starring Alden Ehrenreich as Solo alongside Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover and Thandie Newton, hit the headlines for the wrong reasons in June when directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were sacked.

Lucasfilm, citing “creative differences”, replaced the pair behind the “Jump Street” films and “The Lego Movie” with veteran director Ron Howard, and the project is now said to be back on track.

Speculation over an Obi Wan spin-off has been circulating for as long as the plan for the three anthology films has been public.

“There’s no official offer, and I haven’t met them about it or anything”, McGregor told Entertainment Weekly in April about the prospect of reprising the role.

“But I’ve always said that I’d be happy to do it if they wanted to do it. It would be a good segue between the last episode of the prequels and the new episodes”.

Unconfirmed reports in the trade press have also linked Lucasfilm to projects centering on several other favorite characters, such as Jedi grand master Yoda and bounty hunter Boba Fett.

Daldry, whose Oscar nominations came for “Billy Elliot” (2000), “The Hours” (2002) and “The Reader” (2008), is up for an Emmy this year for directing hit Netflix period drama “The Crown”.

Disney and Daldry’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

After originally planning a full reboot of the ’70s classic, New Line is reverting back to a familiar formula for the next installment of “Shaft”, while also leaving the door open for a new face to take over the franchise.

Sources tell Variety that Samuel L. Jackson is in negotiations to reprise his role of the titular character with “Survivor’s Remorse” star Jessie T. Usher in talks to play Jackson’s son in the film.

Tim Story is directing a script from “Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris. New Line began developing a new “Shaft” in 2015 after acquiring the remake rights and setting up the latest version with producer John Davis.

MGM’s 1971 blaxploitation film was based on Ernest Tidyman’s novel and directed by Gordon Parks. John Shaft was portrayed by Richard Roundtree, who navigates mob neighborhoods in New York City to find a mobster’s missing daughter.

The film was a major success at the box office, pulling in $12 million on a $500,000 budget. Isaac Hayes’ “Theme From Shaft” won the Academy Award for original song.

Parks and Roundtree also teamed on “Shaft’s Big Score” in 1972 and “Shaft in Africa” in 1973. “Shaft” was selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2000.

Paramount’s 2000 reboot, starring Jackson as the nephew of John Shaft, was also successful, grossing $107 million worldwide.

Hollywood has been using this “passing the torch” method more frequently in its recent reboots as a way to give the veteran actor who created or revitalized a role an official sendoff while paving the way for a new star of the series. Some examples include “Creed”, “Blade Runner 2049”, and the “Die Hard” franchise, which is in pre-production on a film with Bruce Willis returning in the role of Det John McClane, while a younger actor portrays the character in flashbacks, setting up future installments of the hit movie series.

Best known for his role in the Starz dramedy “Survivor’s Remorse”, Usher was also recently in Universal’s “Almost Christmas” and Fox’s “Independence Day: Resurgence”. He is repped by CAA and MGMT Entertainment.

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