Contributing Writer; Sydney, Australia (@HugoOzman)
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Following the massive success of Furious 7, Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Jurassic World at the Chinese box office this summer, Hollywood is really seeing the importance of the Chinese market. A number of key productions are now scrambling to cast Chinese actors with the hope of maximizing their potential desirability with Chinese audiences in the years to come.

Hong Kong tabloid Apple Daily is reporting this morning that Donnie Yen has signed on to join Star Wars Episode VIII, and will be jetting off to London next month to start filming. The article also talks about Yen joining Harrison Ford on screen, even though currently only Oscar Isaac is confirmed to be appearing in Rian Johnson's film. Reportedly other actors being considered for the role offered to Yen included Jet Li, Stephen Chow, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Daniel Wu, Wang Leehom and Chang Chen.

While the Apple Daily has a reputation for sensationalising rumours like the best tabloid publications, we had heard rumblings that Gareth Edwards and his crew were circling a number of Chinese actors for a part in his standalone film Rogue One, which just started shooting last week.

So let's wait and see what emerges, but it seems as though Donnie Yen will be joining the Star Wars universe in one capacity or another very soon indeed. Great news, not just for Chinese audiences, but for martial arts fans around the world.

James Marsh contributed to this story.

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Donnie YenStar Wars Episode VIIIRian JohnsonGeorge LucasDaisy RidleyGwendoline ChristieOscar IsaacDomhnall GleesonActionAdventureFantasy

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Art VandelayJuly 6, 2015 1:45 AM

Aren't Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian and Cecep Arif Rahman in Star Wars as well?


marshy00July 6, 2015 1:54 AM

Yup, they're in Ep.VII

Jesse YoungJuly 6, 2015 3:04 AM

*heavy breathing*

QinlongJuly 6, 2015 6:41 AM

If it proves to be true it will be surprising, as I would've thought Donnie Yen would want to come to back to Hollywood in his own vehicle. Highlander 4, Shanghai Knights and Blade II didn't exactly make good use of him.

Ard VijnJuly 6, 2015 7:42 AM

I'll wait until having seen Ep VII before I'll start becoming enthusiastic about Ep VIII. Remember that EP I starred one of the greatest living swordfighters in the world... and Ray Park was indeed awesome in it (for the few minutes he was in that awful, awful film).

DooK_FreshJuly 6, 2015 12:37 PM

I'll believe it once Yen himself confirms it

Deter PinklageJuly 6, 2015 2:39 PM

Finally some Asians in Star Wars movies.

Paul MJuly 6, 2015 4:29 PM

"one of the greatest living swordfighters in the world".. Uh, you mean Ray Park? Umm, well... okay.

Ard VijnJuly 6, 2015 8:26 PM

Well... he did have several titles at the time, and I'd be hard-pressed to drop a name of someone who could best him, especially in film-land.

Paul MJuly 6, 2015 10:32 PM

As a ranked (in Britain) wushu guy I would guess he'd be good with swords, but it is a big jump from there to one of the best in the world. I thought maybe you had some inside info on this I was unaware of - never mind. Personally I liked Liam Neeson's swordplay best in ep.1 - doing the 'older guy getting more done with less effort' bit works well for him. The ending of that duel sucked, and felt like a ripoff. Betcha uncle George is probably to blame for that as well.

DavidisALLrightJuly 6, 2015 10:43 PM

Do you think it's for Rogue One instead and they got their news mixed up?

Rogue One is going to be filming soon, later in the summer. It'll occupy the studio space and once they're done, Episode 8 takes over in the coming year.

JackJuly 6, 2015 11:56 PM

Please don't tell me they cast one of the best on screen martial artists of our time as just a fighter pilot.

If anything, he should totally be a mandalorian.

JackJuly 6, 2015 11:58 PM


I did not know that. However, that is awesome news.

tazo157July 7, 2015 12:19 AM

He'll probaby play a bad guy. White folks love to demonize Asians as bad guys. #hollywoodracism

misoldier11July 7, 2015 9:22 AM

well he was cast as a jedi master. so maybe pump the breaks. people like seeing their own people usually cast as heroes. with the asian community still being a relatively small minority in America, its reasonable to want to see more positive roles but not really feasible to make it a standard. its equivalent to asking why dont korean soap operas have more positive black actors? its reasonable, not feasible. the lesson being, not all white people are bad. in fact, most white people are not bad. dont allow the actions of few, spoil the judgement of the whole.

Todd BrownJuly 7, 2015 11:45 AM

Rogue One has apparently already started shooting.

Todd BrownJuly 7, 2015 11:45 AM

One of the stunt guys from the Raid films as well, so four of them in total.

Well Go GirlJuly 7, 2015 1:35 PM

[Well Go Girl Sez] We were skeptical, too- but just got word from Donnie's team: **IT'S TRUE! IT'S ALL TRUE!!!** (squee faint thump)

marshy00July 7, 2015 1:49 PM

Ha, just saw this - awesome!

DooK_FreshJuly 7, 2015 8:19 PM

Source please?

Well Go GirlJuly 7, 2015 10:21 PM

I'm the Theatrical Publicity and Communications Manager for Well Go USA Entertainment ( Our President & CEO got the scoop from one of Donnie's producers on his upcoming shooting schedule. That's pretty rock solid, or else we wouldn't be jumping up and down and posting about it.

marshy00July 7, 2015 10:44 PM

Your word is good enough for us, Crystal :-)

tazo157July 8, 2015 1:22 AM

Hey thanks for the info. He played a bad guy in the movie Shanghai Knights (2003). Tony Jaa was also a bad guy in Fast Furious 7. Jet Li was a bad guy in Leathal Weapon 4. They make our heroes (the people we look up to) bad guys. Hence, this is why I'm so jaded.

Todd BrownJuly 8, 2015 10:50 AM

You're aware Donnie played the villain opposite Jackie Chan in in Shanghai Knights, yes? And the number of films Jet has been a hero in in Hollywood (despite having crap English)? And that Tony is currently the hero in English language, US originated action flick Skin Trade?

Certainly not saying that there isn't a glass ceiling for Asian talent in the US. There totally is, which is why Johnny Nguyen - as one example - has moved to Vietnam to further his career there. But your examples here are pretty wobbly.

In the cases of almost all of the big Chinese language stars who crossed over to Hollywood films before the handover of Hong Kong the limiting factor on their roles wasn't their ethnicity - people were throwing parts at them - but the fact that most (all of them other than Donnie, really) spoke crap English. And there's a dramatic shortage of hero roles in Hollywood for people who can't speak English. You can put a villain in the corner to glower silently at people, but not a hero, and if your actor can't speak the language you've got a serious problem. In Donnie's case the issue was more that he signed a really bad, really restrictive, multi-picture contract with Miramax who didn't give him anything worthwhile to do while also blocking him from working with anyone else. And shortly after he got free of that his career exploded back in HK so he's had no reason to work in North America.

Well Go GirlJuly 8, 2015 11:34 AM

HAH! Aren't you a peach, Mister Marsh. Believe me, I don't confirm anything without being sure - I don't want the backlash. ;)

KarnakkJuly 9, 2015 12:57 AM

Hello, Nien Nunb?