These 3 actresses are up for Star Wars: Episode VIII

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Dec 17, 2018, 4:00 PM EST (Updated)

Now that Episode VII is in the can, new cast members are being lined up for Star Wars: Episode VIII.

The Wrap reports that three young female actresses are in contention for a major role that will be introduced in the follow-up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Topping the short list is breakout Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany, while the other candidates are Jane the Virgin's Gina Rodriguez and Olivia Cooke from Bates Motel and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (the latter is also in the mix for Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One).

Director Rian Johnson is reportedly still looking at other actresses as well, and some of them may join Maslany, Rodriguez and Cooke later this month to do "chemistry reads" with Star Wars: The Force Awakens star John Boyega, opening the door for speculation about the role that one of the women will ultimately play.

The standout name for genre fans is Maslany, who has become a sensation due to her work on Orphan Black. This isn't her first ride on the Star Wars ship, either: Maslany was apparently a finalist for the part in next year's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story that eventually went to Felicity Jones. She evidently impressed the Lucasfilm brain trust enough to get a call back for Episode VIII.

We don't know much else about Star Wars: Episode VIII except that Johnson has written the script as well, that many of the characters from The Force Awakens are expected to return, and that Benicio Del Toro is playing a villain. Filming is slated to begin early next year, so stay tuned for more casting news.

Star Wars: Episode VIII has a release date of May 26, 2017.

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