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A live-read of The Empire Strikes Back includes Aaron Paul as Luke Skywalker

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Jason Reitman has been doing a series of live-reads at LACMA for the last few years; these one-time performances have included classic scripts like AMERICAN BEAUTY and THE GRADUATE. Something tells me however that his latest venture will bring his great series some serious attention as he’s headed to a whole other galaxy. Reitman has chosen THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and a few members of the principle cast have been announced!

The cast so far includes: Aaron Paul as Luke Skywalker, J.K. Simmons as Darth Vader, Stephen Merchant as C-3P0, Dennis Haysbert as Lando Calrissian, and Kevin Pollack as Yoda.

EW revealed the cast, and Reiman has these words to say about each cast member so far:

Aaron Paul: The first thing I had to figure out was who is going to be the voice of Luke. My first instinct was, ‘Who is the actor most like Mark Hamill today?’ But five minutes into that, I’m thinking we already have that, we already have Star Wars as it is. What is the opposite of that? … Jesse from Breaking Bad questions authority in a much different way than Luke Skywalker does. He growls at it, and his annoyance at his journey will be unique from the traditional boy-to-man transition.

J.K. Simmons: He has to be able to be fatherly and evil simultaneously, and no one has explored that idea more than J.K. Simmons in Whiplash, Darth Vader is someone who has it within him to cut his own son’s hand off, but not send his son to his death.

Stephen Merchant: He’s tall, gangly, British, and has a great sense of humor, so I knew he’d crush the role of C-3PO, it would be great if I made him wear gold teeth.

Dennis Haysbert: Dennis has one of the greatest voices I ever worked with and I had a blast with him on Men, Women, and Children, so he seemed like a perfect fit.

Kevin Pollack: We need a Yoda, and I needed someone who is brilliant with voices, because there are also countless Imperial officers who are strangled by Vader. Kevin makes interesting choices, though. Half the time he will do a perfect imitation of the original, and half the time he does something new. I don’t know what to expect. He could sound exactly like Frank Oz, or I could end up with Alan Arkin as Yoda.

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How awesome is this? I don’t know how they will handle the effects-heavy script on stage, but I imagine most of the audience won’t have any trouble imagining what they probably already know very well. While we wait anxiously to hear about the other big cast reveals (Han Solo, Princess Leia) you can get your tickets here. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK live-read takes place this Thursday, December 18 at the Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles.

Source: EW

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