Claudia Gray’s new Star Wars novel, Bloodline, is tense and exciting and galaxy-spanning in scope. You might even say it’s… cinematic. It would make such a good movie, is what I’m trying to say here. And as soon as that occurred to me, I starting dream-casting the new characters. Read on for my vision for Bloodline, and add your own in the comments! I’ve kept the post spoiler-free, but beware of any lurking in the comments—you can also check out my review of the book if you need more convincing that this movie NEEDS to happen.
Ransolm Casterfo: Dan Stevens
Ransolm Casterfo plays a huge part in Bloodline, but he’d catch your eye no matter what: This senator has a penchant for velvet cloaks. His occasional bout of overconfidence calls for an actor who can be appealing and infuriating at once. Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens is one of the only blond actors of around the right age, and he could surely carry off Ransolm’s dashing, if frustrating, appeal.
Greer Sonnel: Nicole Beharie
A vital member of Leia’s staff, Greer does a little bit of everything—handling Leia’s appointments, piloting a ship, knocking back stomach-churning shots—and it was really hard to narrow down the options for her part (runners-up include Gugu Mbatha Raw and Tessa Thompson). But one badass woman who gives excellent skeptical-eyebrow is my first choice: Nicole Beharie, last seen as the practical, resourceful Abbie Mills on Sleepy Hollow. Greer is complicated, and can be personable, chilly, and uber-competent, sometimes within a single scene. Beharie has that down to a science.
Joph Seastriker: Thomas Mann
The latest hotshot X-Wing pilot to turn up in Leia’s life, Joph has floppy blond hair and is on the young side. A little bit rash and a little bit defensive, he also has good ideas and isn’t afraid to try them out. Thomas Mann, who you may have seen being floppy and wry and blond-ish in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, has the kind of unassuming presence that would make people doubt Joph’s skills, but he can also carry off Joph’s boyish enthusiasm.
Arliz Hadrassian: Ming-Na Wen
When Leia notices the tough, striking Arliz, it’s clear from her body language that Arliz is in charge of the group with whom she sits. There aren’t that many badass roles for women over fifty, so I want basically everyone to get to play her: for her voice and the way she stalks across the screen in The Expanse, Shohreh Aghdashloo; for being tough as nails, Maria Doyle Kennedy; for being the coolest, Frances McDormand. But the way Arliz carries herself is vital, and for that, it has to be Ming-Na Wen. She’s a bit young for the part, but she displays the right kind of intensity and physicality every week on Agents of SHIELD.
Lady Carise Sindian: Dichen Lachman
Dichen Lachman was brilliant in Dollhouse, but nothing since then has really let her shine (or her character doesn’t stick around nearly long enough). She showed she can shift between characters and personas with alarming ease, making her perfect for the royalty-obsessed Lady Carise, who is savvy, smart, and perfectly happy to have people misjudge her as a shallow young woman. Carise is much more than that—and Lachman is brilliant at portraying layered characters with nuance.
Korr Sella: Amandla Stenberg
Maisie Richardson-Sellers plays Korr briefly in The Force Awakens, but the character is just 16 here, which creates the perfect opportunity to get Amandla Stenberg into the Star Wars universe as Leia’s still-idealistic intern, who’s just finding her feet in galactic politics. As Rue in The Hunger Games, she displayed just the kind of resilience that’s going to carry Korr through.
Tai-Lin Garr: Song Kang-ho
Though he’s not quite an American household name, genre fans will recognize Song Kang-ho from The Host and Snowpiercer. Tai-Lin isn’t a huge part, but the character is central to the story’s political bickering. He’s one of Leia’s most trusted peers, and once Gray described his thoughtful eyes and gentle smile, I couldn’t picture anyone else: Song has just the right kind of physical presence to draw all eyes as he crosses a room, and always gives the sense that his characters are thinking much more than they’re saying.
Rinnrivin Di: Luke Evans
Rinnrivin is a Nikto, so we won’t see much of the face of the actor who plays him. He likes nice things, and he admires Leia, to a point. Even under a heap of prosthetics, Luke Evans could pull off his too-smooth personality and penchant for dramatic flair without overselling his more questionable involvements.
Varish Vicly: Natalie Dormer
“Like all Lonerans,” Gray writes, “Varish had long, silky fur the color of gold and a quartet of thin, extended limbs that allowed her to walk on two feet or all fours with equal ease.” Don’t you want to see Natalie Dormer as a space lion?
It feels heretical to even suggest it, but what if we needed a new Leia and Han? Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford could—and should!—absolutely play their iconic characters here, but what if? Can you imagine anyone else in either role? I tried and tried to come up with the right people, but it’s a virtually impossible task. The closest I got:
Leia: Paige Turco
Turco has those liquid brown eyes (and the cheekbones) that are one of Leia’s defining features. Her character on The 100, Abby Griffin, has had to make a lot of tough decisions—and Abby has a complicated relationship with her own child. Turco regularly pulls off steely and sensitive in the same scene, and I can absolutely imagine her both speechifying in the Senate and playing a wicked hand of cards.
Han: Callum Keith Rennie
Rennie has pretty much never played a character I’ve liked, from that one Cylon to that one villain in the second The X-Files movie, the one I generally pretend didn’t happen. But he’s very good at being brusque and impatient, and he’s got the right kind of face: imperfect, relatively handsome, but rough around the edges. He doesn’t look like he enjoys following the rules, and he’s regularly displayed the kind of scruffy physicality he’d need to play Han. We’ll just need to get him to turn up the charm a touch. (I had a couple other ideas—ok, mainly just Garret Dillahunt—but he’s too young for this timeframe. I would also accept Hugh Laurie, actually, but I realize I may be alone in this.)