‘Star Wars': ‘Godzilla’s’ Gareth Edwards to direct standalone film

May 22, 2014 | 10:28 p.m.
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Actor Harrison Ford, who was cast as Han Solo in the original "Star Wars" trilogy. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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Two women have joined the cast of "Star Wars: Episode VII": Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o, left, and Gwendoline Christie.

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"Inside Llewyn Davis" actor Oscar Isaac has been tapped to join the "Star Wars: Episode VII" cast. Click through to see who else scored a role in the film. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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Actress Daisy Ridley, relatively new to the acting scene, has also landed a role in the upcoming film "Inbetweeners II." (Matthew Brooks)

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Actor Adam Driver, best known for his work in the HBO comedy "Girls." (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

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Actor John Boyega, best known for playing Moses in the sci-fi flick "Attack the Block." (Tim P. Whitby / Getty Images)

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Actor Max von Sydow, who received Academy Award nominations for his work in "Pelle the Conqueror" and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close." (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson, who played Bill Weasley in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." (John Phillips / Invision / Associated Press)

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Actor Andy Serkis, best known for motion capture acting for roles such as Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and Caesar in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

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Actress Carrie Fisher, best known for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the original trilogy. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

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Actor Mark Hamill, best known for his portrayal of Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy. (Stephanie Cornfield / For the Times)

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Actor Anthony Daniels, best known as C-3PO in the original "Star Wars" trilogy. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

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Actor Kenny Baker, best known for portraying "Star Wars" robot R2-D2, left, and actor Peter Mayhew, best known for portraying Chewbacca in the original trilogy. (Keith Hamshere / Lucasfilm Ltd)

“Godzilla” director Gareth Edwards will helm the first of the upcoming series of standalone films set in the “Star Wars” universe, set for release Dec. 16, 2016.

Lucasfilm announced Edwards’ selection Thursday in a statement, which also revealed that Gary Whitta (“The Book of Eli,” Telltale Games’ adaptation of “The Walking Dead”) will pen the script.

The new film will explore territory beyond the core saga, but details for now are being kept under wraps.

Edwards’ Hollywood ascendancy has been remarkable. “Godzilla,” which stomped into the multiplex to record-setting grosses this month, was only his second film — his first, 2010’s “Monsters,” he wrote and directed himself and paid for partly with his own savings. But he aspired to give the big-budget movie the same poignancy as the crowd-pleasing sci-fi cinema that initially inspired him, the late 1970s and early 1980s films directed by George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and James Cameron.

British film director Gareth Edwards (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

British film director Gareth Edwards (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

“When you look at a film, there’s certain key emotions you’re going to provoke and feelings you’re going to try to create for the audience,” Edwards said in an interview with Hero Complex at the end of April. “I’m always looking for where’s the bit where they might tear up — even if it’s not tearing up in a sad way, just that you’re so much in awe of what you’re looking at that you get goose bumps and you start to well up. ‘Close Encounters [of the Third Kind]‘ does that for me.”

It’s been a busy time in the “Star Wars” universe. J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: Episode VII,” which will arrive in theaters Dec. 18, 2015, officially went into production this month, with a cast that includes Adam Driver, best known for his role in HBO’s “Girls,” and Oscar Isaac, who won considerable acclaim for his turn in the Coen brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis,” as well as John Boyega, known for his work in the fan favorite film “Attack the Block,” and newcomer Daisy Ridley.

Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson, performance capture expert Andy Serkis and venerable Swedish thespian Max von Sydow are also set to star alongside the principal actors from George Lucas’ original saga — Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker — who will reprise their iconic roles for Abrams’ film.

Widespread reports have suggested that at least one prominent female role in “Star Wars: Episode VII” has yet to be cast.

– Gina McIntyre

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

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