'Star Wars: Episode VII' Update: Two newcomers added to cast

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The Star Wars universe continues to expand …

Lucasfilm has just announced two new cast members of J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII, recruited through an open casting call.

The studio also said once again that it is not shifting the movie’s Dec. 18, 2015 release date, despite a broken leg that has sidelined Han Solo actor Harrison Ford.

But first, a look at the newcomers…

When Lucasfilm held an open casting call for the film last year in 11 cities across the U.S. and U.K., about 30,000 would-be galaxy-dwellers showed up hoping to land roles. Another 30,000 sent in applications online.

Out of all those, two have now been selected:

• Crystal Clarke,  an American actress who was studying in Glasgow, Scotland. She has appeared numerous times onstage and will appear in her first feature film next year, The Moon and the Sun. She’ll be inhabiting other celestial bodies in Episode VII, although her character has not been specified.

• Pip Andersen, a British actor with experience in the wall-climbing athletic art of parkour. He was also hired for an unspecified role. Anderson was most recently seen in a Spider-Man promo for Sony.

“The Star Wars universe has always been about discovering and nurturing young talent and in casting Episode VII we wanted to remain absolutely faithful to this tradition,” Episode VII producer and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement. “We are delighted that so many travelled to see us at the open casting calls and that we have been able to make Crystal and Pip a part of the film.”

The film has already wrapped production in Abu Dhabi, but shooting of the sci-fi saga continues at Pinewood Studios in London as Ford recovers from a broken leg suffered on set last month.

Lucasfilm has been attempting to reshuffle the schedule to accommodate the 71-year-old actor’s absence, which has proved especially challenging since Han Solo is a major part of the film. Despite rumors that Ford will be sidelined until the end of the year, Lucasfilm now says he will be back much sooner than those long-range predictions. “Harrison is doing well and is looking forward to returning to the set soon,” the studio said in a statement.

Though the release date remains unchanged, but shooting will be halted for two-weeks in August as a result of the altered scheduled. The film is still on schedule to finish lensing in the fall.

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