This is the surprising frontrunner for the villain in Star Wars Episode VII

Contributed by
Feb 26, 2014, 4:15 PM EST

Disney and Lucasfilm are said to be very, very close to casting the villain in Star Wars Episode VII

Variety reports that Adam Driver, best known for his work on the HBO series Girls, is the man in the studios' sights. It's not a done deal yet, but it's said to nearing the finish line. Although details on Driver's character are being kept a secret, he's said to be "in the vein" of Darth Vader. A new Sith Lord, perhaps?

Driver's name has been connected to casting for the franchise before -- like just about everyone else in Hollywood -- and he was also said to be up for the part of Lex Luthor in Zack Snyder's upcoming Batman/Superman film. He was recently seen on the big screen in a small but memorable role in the Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis.

The only snag that was holding up his deal for Star Wars involved the production schedule of Girls clashing with that of not just Episode VII, but future Star Wars installments as well -- meaning that Driver's character will apparently loom large in the overall series.

Driver must have also impressed the heck out of studio execs and director J.J. Abrams, since heavyweights such as Michael Fassbender and Hugo Weaving were also reportedly looked at for the part.

Now that Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan have completed their script, and shooting is slated to begin in April in London, it's very likely that we'll see more casting announcements in the weeks ahead. Star Wars Episode VII: Still No Subtitle is scheduled to open on Dec. 18, 2015.

Have you seen any of Driver's work? Can he handle the big baddie in Star Wars?