Like it or not, the Star Wars franchise, as a film entity, is not only cranking back to life, its had a new engine put into it and is now thumping down the road with the foot to the floor.

Disney, not being one to fornicate with arachnids, acquired the franchise from LucasFilm with the express intention of churning out as much new content as possible and generally using every inch of their new universe that they can possibly muster.

We’re already well across the – admittedly awesome looking – development for Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which will sit in the chronology of the original six Star Wars films, following on a few decades after Return of the Jedi.

But whilst the December 18th release date for the rolls menacingly closer, the next project in the franchise is starting to leave the blocks.

The planned spin-off movie Rogue One is in pre-production phase, and is now courting actors to fill its cast. We already know that the freakin’ excellent Felicity Jones is going to fill one of the lead roles, in a casting decision that can be filed away under “Brilliant.”

And now Deadline are reporting that our own Ben Mendelsohn is “circling” the opposing lead role in the film. Mendelsohn, of course, is a tenured Aussie actor with notable turns in films like Animal Kingdom, The Dark Knight Rises, Exodus: Gods and Kings and Killing Them Softly. He’s also filling the lead role in Netflix‘s original series Bloodline, which a lot of experts believe will place him in discussions for the Best Actor Emmy Award come later in the year.

Not much is known about Rogue One, or indeed the role that Mendelsohn potentially could play. We do know that Monsters and Godzilla director Gareth Edwards will helm the picture, which will take place on a separate plotline to the main series – it is a bloody big universe with more stories than just the Skywalker ones, after all.

What we do know is the timing of the film’s release. The film’s are planned to be paired with the main episodes in alternating fashion. Episode VII will drop this December, with Rogue One to follow. This, in turn, will be followed by Rian Johnson‘s Episode VIII, which will then be followed by Josh Trank‘s standalone spin-off.

The force isn’t just alive and well, my friends. The force is forever.

Photo: Chelsea Lauren via Getty Images.

via Deadline.