The Force Is Strong With Lupita Nyong’o and Gwendoline Christie

Source: Lucasfilm

Pictures from the Abu Dhabi set of Star Wars Episode VII leaked Monday morning (most logically assuming that Abu Dhabi is doubling for Tatooine), and — surprise! — the photos confirm that 12 Years a Slave Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o is indeed in the movie after much speculation. (Contrary to what most headlines are saying, Nyong’o being “cast” isn’t the actual news, since she’s already participating in the filming and was cast some time ago; J.J. Abrams and company were keeping her participation a secret, but thankfully, the Internet hates secrets, so surprise ruined.)

Joining Nyong’o is Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie, whose deft turn in the hit HBO show promises some badassery and sword/saber play on her part in the new Star Wars. Controversy about the film’s lack of female characters spurred many think pieces when the cast was first announced last month, and the addition of these two (talented) actresses should helped to win over skeptics.

“I could not be more excited about Lupita and Gwendoline joining the cast of Episode VII,” Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said in a press release. “It’s thrilling to see this extraordinarily talented ensemble taking shape.”

The rest of the announced cast features John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow, joining the stars of the original saga in Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker.

The most exciting part of the photo fiasco, about which Abrams is probably none too happy, is the sighting of a giant pig monster puppet; According to TMZ, “the new alien was manned by 5 men inside its belly … and was used in two scenes taking place in what looks like a Tatooine marketplace.”

MTV aptly described the beast as “a massive four-legged alien creature that looks like a cross between a rhinoceros, a pig and a bulldog.”

The video Abrams released two weeks ago featured an ugly, long-necked creature with a cage of birds on its back casually walking through a Tatooine marketplace. If these pictures are representative of Abrams’ approach (and let’s hope they are), then the movie won’t rely entirely on bad CGI, like Lucas’ prequels.

Here are all of the photos, each of which has been branded with a lovely TMZ logo for your copyrighted pleasure.

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