Pre-production for the finale to the new Star Wars trilogy is well underway ahead of the start of principal photography, scheduled to begin in July. As J.J. Abrams and crew draw nearer to that start date, they’ve begun the search for a handful of new leads for Episode IX and one of them appears to be one of the most popular characters from the old Expanded Universe novels. To be clear, this could be considered a MAJOR spoiler and will undoubtedly set you down a trail of speculation from which you may never return. Do not read on if you do not wish to be spoiled!
If you’re still here, let’s get straight to it. Abrams, along with casting director Nina Gold, who has worked on both Episode VII and Episode VIII, are searching for a female lead, 40-50 years old, to play the role of “MARA.” It’s common practice for film’s to use code names during the casting process, and that could be the case here. To be clear, we’re only able to confirm that they are looking to fill the role of a female lead who they are calling “MARA.”
To fans of the EU, however, the possibility that Abrams is bringing Mara Jade to the big screen in Episode IX is absolutely mind-blowing. Created by Timothy Zahn in the once-but-not-now-canon novel Heir to the Empire, published in 1991, Mara Jade is a character that carries a special importance to a generation of fans who only had the EU novels to quench their Star Wars thirst. Originally the Hand of Emperor Palpatine, Jade, a powerful Force user in her own right, was sent to kill Luke Skywalker. Skywalker was able to not only escape death but to break Palpatine’s posthumous power over Jade. The two went on to marry, have children and train a new generation of Jedi.
With Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars in 2014, the once canon EU materials lost their position in favor of new novels, comics and spinoff films, but some characters have found their way into the canon once again, such as Thrawn and the Cloud-Riders featured in the upcoming Solo film. Others, such as Ben Solo/Kylo Ren, seem to have been adapted to the screen by combining the attributes of other EU characters. While we cannot confirm in any way what to expect from “MARA” in Episode IX, it’s easy to speculate that the film version would share at least some similarity with the character from the EU novels.
At that point, it’s hard not to at least wonder what relationship, if any, she may have had with Luke Skywalker and/or Rey. Many fans were unsatisfied with the explanation of Rey’s parentage given in Episode VIII and recent rumblings have suggested that Ren’s vision (or his revelation of it to Rey) of Rey’s parents may not have been fully accurate and we may get some real answers in Episode IX. Could the addition of “MARA” to official Star Wars canon just be a coincidence? Could she be Rey’s mother? At this point, we don’t have answers and it’s just as likely that she’s a powerful member of the First Order with no connection to Rey…but that’s why I wanted to clearly separate the facts from the speculation.
Facts: Disney is casting a female lead, 40-50, for the role of “MARA.”
Speculation: Anything else I wrote about who she might be in the film.
With production set to begin in just a few months, casting will start taking place and the pieces to this puzzle will start to fill in. Until then, what do you guys think about the possibilities of one of the EU’s most beloved characters potentially entering the cinematic universe?
Star Wars: Episode IX is set to film from July to December ahead of a December 20, 2019 release.