Olivia Cooke, Tatiana Maslany and Gina Rodriguez in contention for female lead in Star Wars: Episode VIII

With just over three months to go until Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiers in cinemas, there is some intriguing news regarding casting for the next installment Episode VIII.

It has been confirmed that three upcoming actresses are being cited for the lead female role in the follow-up, all of whom have shown plenty of potential in their careers already.

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First up is Golden-Globe winning star Gina Rodriguez, who won her award for her performance as pregnant Latina waitress Jane Villaneuva in the CBS sitcom Jane the Virgin.

The second candidate is Tatiana Maslany, best known for her acclaimed role as street hustler Sarah Manning in the sci-fi thriller series Orphan Black. She has also appeared in noteworthy films like Eastern Promises (2007) and The Vow (2012).

The final contender is British starlet Olivia Cooke. The Manchester-born actress is currently earning raves for her performance as cancer-sufferer Rachel in the indie-dramedy Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Coincidentally, her other high-profile role also involves her playing a character with an illness (cystic-fibrosis on this occasion) in the form of Emma Decody in the creepy Psycho prequel series Bates Motel.

All three actresses will be hoping that the force is with them as they battle it out to land that coveted role. No plot details have been given for the Star Wars sequel as of yet.

Rian Johnson (Looper, Breaking Bad) will direct Episode VII which will be released in cinemas on May 26th 2017.

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