Two up-and-coming actresses are about to make a trip to a galaxy far, far away as Lucasfilm announced Monday that Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o and Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie are joining the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII.
Nyong’o is coming off a whirlwind 2013 where she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her feature film debut in 12 Years a Slave. She also become a fashion icon, appearing on the cover of People Magazine's “50 Most Beautiful People” issue. But other than a small role in the Liam Neeson action vehicle Non-Stop and an upcoming voice role in the new version of The Jungle Book, Nyong’o had not announced her next major role until now. Nyong’o had been rumored for a role in Episode VII for some time, though she was not included in the original cast list released last month.
Somewhat more of a surprise is the inclusion of Game of Thrones breakout Gwendoline Christie, who has become a fan favorite for her portrayal of the tough but kindhearted female warrior Brienne of Tarth. The imposing 6-foot-3 Brit only has a few film roles on her résumé, including a small part in Heath Ledger’s last film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. But she will be seen in another big-screen epic before Episode VII, appearing in both parts of Mockingjay, the final Hunger Games installments coming in 2014 and 2015.
“I could not be more excited about Lupita and Gwendoline joining the cast of Episode VII," Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said in a press release. "It’s thrilling to see this extraordinarily talented ensemble taking shape.” Adding two actresses to the cast also helps mitigate some of the negative attention the film received when the initial cast list was announced with only two female leads: newcomer Daisy Ridley and returning star Carrie Fisher.
Star Wars: Episode VII is filming now and will be released on Dec. 18, 2015.
Photo Credits: Jeff Vespa/WireImage, Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images