Attack the Block

Before the Force

See the Cast of Star Wars: The Force Awakens Before They Entered a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Catch Attack the Block throughout December on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Screen Gems/Courtesy Everett Collection

Hey, have you heard there’s a new Star Wars movie coming out? No? You must not have the Internet. After all the wait, we’re just under a week away from our collective return mission to a galaxy far, far away. And here’s the thing — we shockingly still know little about the movie itself. Yes, we know Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are returning, because landing on the Moon got less publicity then that announcement. But who are these new guys filling up space in the teasers and trailers? Where have you seen them before? Before you catch John Boyega in his pre-Star Wars role in Attack the Block on IFC, take a look at the early roles of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens cast before they become bigger than a Sarlacc’s appetite.

10. Billie Lourd (Unknown)

Billie Lourd

You probably recognize Lourd from her turn as Chanel #3 on the Ryan Murphy horror comedy Scream Queens. But did you know she’s Carrie Fisher’s real life daughter? Lourd claims she’s not playing Princess Leia’s daughter in The Force Awakens, despite photo evidence that suggests more than a passing resemblance. Now we totally get why Chanel #3 wears earmuffs all the time.

9. Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron)

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

Born to a Guatemalan mother and a Cuban father, Isaac grew up in Miami before finding his way to the Juilliard School, where he studied alongside future costar Jessica Chastain. He played Romeo in the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of Romeo and Juliet in 2007, before making the leap to movies. Giant flops like Sucker Punch soon gave way to small, critically acclaimed films, including DriveInside Llewyn Davis, A Most Violent Year and Ex Machina.

8. Daisy Ridley (Rey)

Daisy Ridley


Perhaps the least known of the newcomers, Ridley had worked sparingly on British television before getting her big break in a galaxy far, far away. While none were starring roles, you may recognize her from Casualty, Silent Witness, Youngers or Mr. Selfridge, in which she got to act in the general vicinity of Ari Gold himself, Jeremy Piven.

7. John Boyega (Finn)

Big Talk Pictures

Big Talk Pictures

Born in London to Nigerian parents, Boyega was primarily a theater actor when he won the lead role of Moses in the genre bending hit Attack the Block. He nearly played a version of Mike Tyson in the HBO pilot Da Brick, but the series was ultimately not picked up. That may have been for the best, as it allowed him to accept the role of a lifetime when J.J. Abrams came calling.

6. Adam Driver (Kylo Ren)



While Driver may be best known for having sex with Lena Dunham in every which way possible on the HBO hit Girls, he’s already had a unique and diverse career beyond that star making turn. Before he ever found his way to acting, he actually served in the Marines, answering his country’s call after the attacks of 9/11. It would be an injury while bike riding, and not in the theater of war, that would lead to a medical discharge. A stop at Julliard led to roles on shows like The Unusuals and Law & Order: SVU (above), where he played, in his words,  a “creepy” computer geek. He made his feature film debut in J. Edgar, before landing roles in Lincoln, Frances Ha, and Inside Llewyn Davis, where he would costar alongside future Star Wars castmate Oscar Isaac.

5. Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke)



Serkis got his start in theater, starring in numerous hits, including a 1997 production of Hurlyburly with Doctor Who himself, David Tennant. But he is perhaps best known as the man who made motion capture acting respectable, famously playing Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films. Bringing a complex character to life, with the assistance of a talented group of animators, transformed the industry and his career. He would soon take on other digitally animated roles, such as playing the title role in King Kong and ape messiah Caesar in the new Planet of the Apes films.

4. Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux)

Domhnall Gleeson Harry Potter

Warner Bros. Ent./Courtesy Everett Collection


Son to actor Brendan Gleeson, Domhnall followed in his father’s footsteps, starring on both the stage and the screen. In 2006 he was nominated for his part in the Broadway production of The Lieutenant of Inishmore. He’s also been a constant presence in independent cinema, starring in everything from Frank to Never Let Me Go to Ex Machina (alongside future Star Wars costar Oscar Isaac). Still, he may be best known for playing the eldest Weasley brother, Bill, in the Harry Potter movies, starring alongside his father.

3. Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma)

Sony Pictures Classic

Sony Pictures Classic

Christie only recently found out that her role in the The Force Awakens was changed from a man to a woman, with her in mind. We can all be grateful for that based on her popular performance as Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones. She got her start with a blink and you’d miss it part in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, and also appeared in his 2013 film Zero Theorem, but has since gone on to bigger and better. Not content to have just two massive franchises on her resume, she recently played Commander Lyme in the concluding chapter of The Hunger Games movies, Mockingjay – Part 2.

2. Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata)

MTV Staying Alive

MTV Staying Alive

Like many acting greats before her, Nyong’o attended the Yale School of Drama, where she starred in productions of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya and William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. She had a brief run on a Kenyan soap opera called Shuga, before going on to win an Oscar for 12 Years a Slave, her first role in a film.

1. Max von Sydow (Lor San Tekka)

Dino De Laurentiis Company

Dino De Laurentiis Company

The elder statesman of the new Star Wars cast members, von Sydow has had a legendary career up to this point. Arguably most famous for Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal and The Exorcist, von Sydow has also played Ernst Blofeld in the Bond film Never Say Never Again, craved the spice in Dune and attacked Earth with his intense eyebrows and facial hair as Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon. 

Travel to a galaxy far, far away (the ’70s) with the That ’70s Show “Totally Spaced-Out Marathon” Monday and Tuesday on IFC. 

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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