Long queues at ‘Star Wars’ auditions in Britain

LONDON - Thousands of people auditioned for the next Star Wars film in Britain on Saturday -- so many in fact that organisers left many disappointed by shutting doors early due to the huge number.

They were responding to a casting call launched by Disney last week that it was looking for an actress to play a "street-smart" and strong character aged 17 or 18, and an actor to play a capable and courageous young man for its "Star Wars Episode VII", which is being made in Britain next year.

Budding young thespians and others just keen to be involved in the blockbuster franchise waited for hours in the pouring rain in Bristol, southwest England, for a 'meet and greet' with casting directors. Some even camped overnight.

Local media reported that wannabe actors had come from as far away as the United States and Sweden.

"You can't not audition for this if you're in the age range, if you fit it, because it's just a big deal," one hopeful, Ben Millier, told the BBC.

Disney, which brought Star Wars production company Lucasfilm a year ago, has specificied that both lead characters must be good-looking, smart and athletic.

None of those likely to win the part were born when the original Star Wars movie was released in 1977. But most of the people queuing had seized the chance to be part of film history.

The auditions at Bristol's Arnolfini arts centre were due to begin at 11:00am but half an hour before, the line was closed because so many people had turned up.

A second day of auditions was to be held in Bristol on Sunday, with those who missed out on Saturday told to arrive before dawn to ensure they would be seen.

Bristol has a strong connection with the franchise as the home town of David Prowse, who played villain Darth Vader in George Lucas' original trilogy.

However, his West Country accent was overdubbed with the memorable, more menacing tones of US actor James Earl Jones -- and Prowse urged locals before the auditions to disguise their Bristol twang.

"You can't go 'oo-aar my dear, here's my lightsaber'," he said.

Other 'meet and greet' events are taking place in London, Manchester, Glasgow and Dublin in Ireland later this month.

The seventh film in the science-fiction saga, and the first of a new trilogy, is to be directed by 'Star Trek' film-maker J. J. Abrams. It is scheduled for release in December 2015.

It will carry the story of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia beyond "Return of the Jedi".