Entertainment & Arts

Star Wars: Benicio Del Toro could play Episode VIII villain

Benicio Del Toro Image copyright AP
Image caption Del Toro is currently starring in crime thriller Sicario

Oscar-winner Benicio Del Toro has been invited to play the villain in an upcoming Star Wars sequel, according to US media reports.

The Puerto Rican star could appear in the as-yet-untitled Star Wars: Episode VIII, which is due for release in 2017.

He would join Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac, who will debut in Star Wars: The Force Awakens this December.

Variety magazine and The Wrap both reported the deal is in "early stages", quoting unnamed sources.

Film studio Disney has also met with Joaquin Phoenix for the part, Variety added.

Del Toro won an Oscar for best supporting actor in 2001 for his role as a drug enforcement officer in Steven Soderbegh's crime drama, Traffic.

He was nominated again in 2004 for 21 Grams, and went on to portray Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara in a two-part, four-hour biopic that premiered in Cannes in 2008.

The 48-year-old was previously considered to play the villain in Star Trek: Into Darkness, before the role went to Benedict Cumberbatch. He recently appeared as The Collector in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy.

Star Wars: Episode VIII is the second of three planned sequels to the sci-fi franchise.

Directed by Rian Johnson, whose previous films include Brick and Looper, it is expected to start shooting early next year in advance of a release date of 26 May, 2017.

Disney has so far refused to comment on the casting details.

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