I’m back at it with a brand-new Canon Casting feature for you guys, and this time I tackled the massive project of painstakingly going through the entire Aftermath series and casting what I felt like were the two dozen most important characters. Yeah. Two. Dozen. It took a minute and I went back-and-forth on quite a few. If you’re unfamiliar with my Canon Casting’s, here’s how it works really quickly. I tackle a non-film project and fan-cast it – with a few rules. Actors have to be alive, and age appropriate. So in other words you can’t cast an actor who’s passed away, even if it means a recast. Same deal with not being able to ‘time travel’ to find the perfect actor – 1970 Clint Eastwood isn’t available.. Lastly, if one of my current or previous Canon Casting choices actually gets cast in an official Star Wars film, I have to recast them. Yes, it happens, ask Thandie Newton…. Make sense, good? And yes, I know I haven’t even reviewed the Aftermath series officially for the site yet (I’m working on it, trust me), but I wanted to go ahead and get this off my plate.
As I mentioned before, this was a very big project, lots of characters, lots of arcs. I chose what I felt like were the most important roles and rolled with those (pun intended). As I’ve done with Bloodline, let’s get returning cast members out of the way. So I present….
Genevieve O’Reilly as Mon Mothma and Joonas Suotoma as Chewbacca
The two above are more-or-less no-brainers, so yeah. And it would be awesome to see Genevieve back in this iteration of Mon Mothma, also.
Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo
OK, so this one wasn’t as much of a no-brainer as you might think. I had actually decided on a different actor altogether for Han, but relented at the last minute and updated it to have Alden reprise his role in the upcoming Han Solo standalone film. He will have to be aged-up a little, but it shouldn’t be too big of a deal….. Let’s hope he’s good, but I have to say I’m getting more and more confident in Alden and the Han Solo film as time goes on. Next up let’s knock out a few peripheral characters, starting with the Imperials:
Bob Bunton as Grand Moff Randd, Margo Martindale as General Jylia Shale, and Gerald McRaney as Moff Valco Pandion
Again, these are side characters who don’t appear in all three books, but they were large enough plot devices that I included them. All three actors are veterans of the small (and sometimes big) screen, so they were pretty easy to cast. Plus, Randd also appears in the novel Lost Stars, which I’m working on a Rollback Review and a Canon Casting for as well. Now for some peripheral characters on the good guys side:
Riley Voelkel as Evaan Verlaine, Peta Wilson as Kyrsta Agate, and Judy Greer as Tracene Kane
I had to put a little more thought into these, especially Evaan Verlaine and Kyrsta Agate. Verlaine also appears in the canon Princess Leia comic series and was apparently (according to the film’s visual guide) took part in the Battle of Scarif. So there’s a good chance she can pop back up. Age was also something I struggled with, so I erred on the side of younger with up-and-coming actress Riley Voelkel. For the role of Kyrsta Agate I went back-and-forth on a few different actresses, eventually coming to the decision Peta Wilson had the combination of aesthetics and enough masculinity to portray the role well as she’s described in the series. Lastly, I went with bubbly-yet-bitchy Judy Greer in the role of journalist Tracene Kane. We see a lot of the fallout of the Battle of Endor through her eyes as she travels interviewing soldiers and citizens all over the galaxy. When I was reading the books Elizabeth Banks was the actress that continually popped up, but in the end I felt Greer was a better fit. Plus, bear in mind that I listen to the audiobook versions of all the Star Wars books, so even subconsciously that has to influence some of my casting choices when I do these… And that may have happened a little here. Maybe. Next up are the two tough guys of the series and the love interest of one of the most important characters:
Josh Helman as Jom Barell, Jai Courtney as Mercurial Swift, and Amaury Nolasco at Conder Kyl
Believe it or not, these were pretty tough roles for me to cast – especially Jom. I liked his character in the novels and I wanted to make sure I did him justice. I really like Josh Helman, especially in Flesh and Bone. As far as Swift goes, voice portrayal in the audiobook may have influenced me here as well, and because of that I went around and around on Jai Courtney, but in the end he was simply the best choice. At one point I think I even had these roles flip-flopped, but I think both actors are best suited to the roles above and not the other way around. Now I’m going to get another recast out of the way real quick… Casting the role of Conder Kyl took a minute. It was so challenging in fact that I almost decided to scrap him in the post, trying to convince myself he wasn’t that large of a character. But he was. He was the love interest of Sinjir Rath Velus, one of our main heroes, and he does play a pivotal role in Life Debt and Empires End. I went with Puerto Rican actor Amaury Nolasco, best known in the US for his role in Prison Break. And up-and-coming star, he fits the look and build described by author Chuck Wendig almost perfectly. While Conder doesn’t have a ton of screentime in the series, I still needed an actor who was talented enough to be the tough and confident slicer, but also the on-again-off-again love interest of Sinjir. Amaury is our man.
Anya Taylor-Joy as Leia Organa
So this marks the second time I’ve had to recast the iconic role of Princess Leia, although the first time I’ve had to do it because of the age discrepancy. I wouldn’t go CGI here for two reasons – Leia’s role is too large in these books and quite frankly, the CGI iteration of her in Rogue One wasn’t nearly as strong as Tarkin’s in my opinion. I was drawn to Anya Taylor-Joy’s face structure and eyes, as they do closely resemble a younger Carrie Fisher’s. And after that, when I realized how talented she is, it was a very easy decision. At 21 years old (as of the time I’m typing this), she’s close to Leia’s age in the original trilogy as well. Now, two more smaller but pivotal roles on each sides and then we are going to get down and dirty with the meat of the casting.
Josh Hutcherson as Wedge Antilles and Sam Trammell as Brentin Wexley
Bear in mind that both of these men are vying for the attention of our main protagonist throughout the series, Norra Wexley. Having said that, recasting heroic Rebel pilot Wedge Antilles was actually easier than I thought it might be. I think I thought that Wedge was older in the films than he was, but Wookiepedia lists his Legends iteration as 21 years old during the Battle of Yavin, so casting Josh Hutcherson works here. I will say the the age difference between Wedge and the object of his desire – Norra Wexley – is a little perplexing, and I’d love to hear the author’s thoughts on it at some point. But oh well, love is love, right? Next up is the smaller but pivotal role of Norra’s missing husband, Brentin Wexley. An early member of the Rebellion, he was ripped out of their house on Akiva years before the events of A New Hope by Imperial officers, not to be heard from again. This actually prompted Norra to essentially abandon her son Temmin, leaving him with his Aunts on Akiva, to join the Rebellion in search of him. When he turns back up in Aftermath: Life Debt, all is not as it seems. Sam Trammell popped into my head immediately when I started thinking of who to cast as Brentin, who plays a much larger role in the third book in the series, Aftermath: Empire’s End.
Jackie Earle Haley as Yupe Tashu and Brendan Gleeson as Brendol Hux
It actually took me a minute to figure out who and what I wanted to do with the character of uber-creepy, Palpatine and dark side sycophant, Yupe Tashu. I was originally going to go with someone older, but settled on Jackie Earle Haley as I felt his general creepiness (or at least the characters he typically portrays) and his smaller stature (at only 5’5″ tall) would do the character justice. I also didn’t want to shoot to high (no offense to you if you’re reading this, Jackie, haha) on this casting choice with someone who could potentially overshadow one of the main villains in the books, and certainly one of the most important characters in the series (whom I’m casting below, in the very next entry). Moving on to Brendol Hux, head of the Empire’s academy on Arkanis, where he initiated a stringent and proven method for training the elite of the Empire’s ranks – a method that would be carried forward into the First Order by none other than his bastard son, Armitage Hux, during the era of The Force Awakens. There was no casting choice easier than Brendan Gleeson for this role, as after all he is Domnhall Gleeson’s father, the same Domnhall Gleeson who plays General Armitage Hux in The Force Awakens. Sometimes you get lucky. Now, to the big stage for the main players….
Teresa Palmer as Adia Rite
Although you may not consider her one of the most major players in the Aftermath series, it’s hard to argue the impact she has on the progression of the plot line on the Imperial side. As our main antagonist Grand Admiral Rae Sloane’s personal aide, Adia is also working with (and sleeping with) Gallius Rax, helping him to pull Sloane’s strings all along the way. I wanted someone who could pull of the role of the unassuming, often naive aide, and also the woman who would ultimately be loyal to the genius of Gallius Rax. Teresa Palmer is that actress, I believe.
Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Gallius Rax
The charismatic and always in control Gallius Rax was hand-selected by Emperor Palpatine himself to head up his mysterious ‘contingency plan’, should anything end his life and/or his reign as leader of the galaxy short. The success of the Aftermath series were it to be turned into a series of films would hinge on the casting of a small handful of characters, and Gallius Rax is definitely one of those. I agonized over this role, but in the end the answer was always right in front of my face. I kept having to remind myself that Rax was not that old, even though he comes off as older and more wise in the series than his age would let on. I’ve loved Jonathan Rhys Meyers for decades, ever since seeing him in Velvet Goldmine in the late 90’s. I know he has all the tools to pull this role off to perfection and beyond.
Dylan Minnette as Temmin Wexley
This casting should have been easier than it was, as I originally had someone else penciled into this role and at the last minute went back to Dylan Minnette, who happened to be my first choice all along. The actor who portrays the boy who will grow up to become Resistance pilot Snap Wexley in The Force Awakens and the Poe Dameron comic series has to be believable as both a brash, immature teenager and a hero of the Rebellion. No doubts Dylan would knock it out of the park in this role. And he has enough comedic skill to keep up with his best friend, who happens to be a homicidal reprogrammed B1 Battle Droid named Mister Bones!
Luke Evans as Sinjir Rath Velus
Man, this was a TOUGH one, and I still don’t know for sure if I got it right. Put simply, Sinjir Rath Velus is one of the most uniquely developed characters in the history of Star Wars literature, and I really had a difficult time finding ONE actor to embody the ex-Imperial intelligence officer. After much deliberation I’ve decided to tap Luke Evans in the pivotal role. He has the look, and he certainly embodies the side of Sinjir that can get downright gnarly, but I continue to question if he can play the softer and more suave side of him, the side of his personality that quite frankly is front-and-center for most of the Aftermath series. I also question whether or not at 6’0 he’s tall enough to accurately portray him. Guess I’ll have to roll to the here and hope I come up 6’s.
Rosario Dawson as Jas Emari
For the fan-favorite bounty hunter with a heart character of Jas Emari I went with my heart – Rosario Dawson. One of my favorite actresses over the past couple of decades, Rosario could slide into the bounty hunter’s skin (and Zabraki horns) pretty easily in my opinion. The look and aesthetic of the actress chosen here has to be paramount, as she will spend the trilogy of books/films bald with horns on her head, and I think Rosario’s striking features will allow her to accomplish this part with ease. We also need someone with a tough edge, and again, slam dunk here. I had originally Canon Cast Rosario as Githany, the beautiful and seductive Jedi-turned-Sith from the Bane movie I pitched on the air with Joe a while back, but I decided to recast that role and award this better role to Rosario. I like my odds on this one…
Frema Agyeman at Grand Admiral Rae Sloane
Grand Admiral Rae Sloane is a confident face in the fragile Empire as they attempt to regroup after the loss of the Emperor, Vader, the Death Star, and much of their fleet. I needed someone who oozed confidence, but also had a softer side, which although rarely demonstrated, does shine through occasionally. As the main antagonist of the series of books, her journey is quite remarkable, and after watching Frema Agyeman in both Sense8 (which I really like) and Doctor Who I think she’s our girl. I had a short list of about five actresses that I thought could pull this role off, but I kept coming back to Frema. And taking into account the fact that a younger Rae Sloan also stars in another canon novel, A New Dawn, whoever we cast needed to look young enough to be able to slide into that role as well (plus, any roles the future may have cooked up for her), as it is a very pivotal role (and I’ll get around to Canon Casting that one as well, don’t worry).
Constance Zimmer as Norra Wexley
And lastly for our main protagonist, and leader of the heroes in the Aftermath trilogy I am tapping Constance Zimmer. Norra Wexley has a huge character arc in the series, with major emotional ups-and-downs, not to mention to baggage she arrives in tow with in the very first book. I had someone else in this role since the very first time I read the first Aftermath book (hell, probably not even a quarter of the way through it), and that actress was Diane Lane. Not sure why, I just kept seeing her in the role. It wasn’t until later that I decided to take a chance and plug Zimmer into the role. I’ve always liked everything I’ve seen her in, and to me at least she has the look that I envision Norra having – smaller frame, pretty but not gorgeous features, and a look in her eyes that shows the audience she’s both weary and experienced.
So there we have it, my ideal cast (at least playing by my Canon Casting rules) for the entire Aftermath trilogy of books. I really enjoyed the series, and I gotta tell you, if you gave up after the first book (as many I’ve talked to did) you really blew it. Pick them back up, you’ll thank me for it. I’m working on a review of the entire series as well, hopefully it’ll be done in the next week or so. In the meantime if you have any nitpicks or comments, feel free to hit me on the contact page, I’d love to hear from you. Below is a gallery of every one of the actors if you wanna just reference that: