It is being reported that Keri Russell will be joining the cast of episode 9.  Some say she is “in talks” to join ep 9 but JJ gets who he wants, especially when he has worked with them before.  Let us save time and assume she is in.  Keri Russell has done films from Mission Impossible 3 to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, to the tv show Americans.  She is a great actress that, like Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro before her, will add a great personal spin to her character.

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The Patterns of JJ Abrams

     The year is 1998.  JJ Abrams had written for many successful movies, but he would take his first steps into the small screen and create his own show, Felicity.  It was in the 90210, Dawson’s Creek mold which was very popular back then.  JJ would cast a young actress by the name of Keri Russell.  The show would last four years, but would contain many familiar names as well as launch some young careers.  In this show was everyone’s favorite pink ranger Amy Jo Johnson, as well as young actors Scott Speedman and Scott Foley.  One familiar name I will come back to of course is Greg Grunberg. By far the stand out was Keri Russell.  This would start a future for her that would keep growing through today.

    JJ would go on to direct and produce a great many other shows.  Actors tend to love him.  JJ is known for reaching back to old friends and show compatriots to come work on other projects.  Greg Grunberg and JJ Abrams have a long history together.  JJ gave Greg the role of Snap Wexley in The Force Awakens.  While it wasn’t a main role it was a very active and visible role.  Simon Pegg, best known as Scotty in the Star Trek reboot and his comedies, came over to the Force Awakens at JJ’s behest.  The fact that we are now getting Keri Russell added to the SWU is a bit of a shock, but in the end it is JJ Abrams calling on people from his past to help with current projects.

    So what does this mean?  We have seen lots of major names come over to Star Wars.  Some had nice roles.  Some had hidden roles such as Simon Pegg.  Yet others had bit parts that didn’t really need someone of that caliber.  Keri could be a First Order Officer, Resistance Admiral, Jedi, pilot……she can do it all.  HOWEVER!   Recent reports have talked about casting calls for a woman, age 30s or 40s, fit and able to handle intense combat.  The code name for the part? Mara.

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Could This Be Mara Jade?

    Casting names rarely have any relevance to the character.  Occasionally they can, but often they are just code words.  They sometimes have a connection once we see the role and learn the real name of the character.  This could perhaps be one time where the name may mean something.  Why? Red Hair. 

    As Star Wars fans know, there is one red head in the Star Wars universe of extreme importance – Mara Jade Skywalker.  Could Keri in fact be playing Mara Jade?  Keri has the trademark red hair and can hold her own athletically.  Give her the same regiment as Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen or Daisy Ridley and there is no doubt in my mind she could wield a lightsaber convincingly.  You hand this girl a lightsaber and tell her to look pissed, the villain will have one thing on their mind – poodoo.

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Is This Mara Jade Skywalker?

    The big question is though, will this be a new version of Mara Jade, or will she actually have something to do with Skywalker?  Let us just start with Mara Jade being in the film.  Could she finally show up and fit the story? Quite possibly.  While this is only rumor, another name that has been floating around that may be realized from the expanded universe is Talon Carrde, Mara’s boss in the books.  With Lando possibly back, this could turn into a smuggler heavy movie.  Let’s face it, the resistance needs help and this may be one of their best resources.  To bring in both Talon and Mara would be great fan service that would fit the narrative.

    One issue that fans may have is that she was supposed to be Skywalker’s wife.  To have her enter now, after the death of Luke, will unsettle many.  Who is to say they weren’t lovers or acquaintances already?  We have no record of Luke and how his life went down.  We know his academy fell about 28 ABY.  We do not know exactly when he founded it or for how long it ran.  Needless to say there is most likely a window where, post Return of the Jedi, he runs around the galaxy.  He could have met someone, but this may be too early for this “Mara” role to be alive or old enough. 

    Perhaps she is an older student Luke was training.  Luke and she have some sort of relationship until the Academy destruction.  “Mara,” fearing Luke to be dead when Kylo revolts, runs from Kylo.  She hides in the fringes and meets up with Talon Karrde.   With Luke shut off from the force she wouldn’t know he was still alive.  “Mara” feels Luke’s death and comes back to the resistance with Kardde and Co. 

    While the possibilities are extensive, whatever Keri Russell is asked to do she will nail it.  She is a great actress that can handle the physical demands should they be required.  I am truly excited to hear this news.