Aladdin star Mena Massoud caused a bit of a disturbance in the Force on social media recently, stoking previous rumors that he could be heading to the galaxy, far, far away. Let’s take a step back from the hype and wonder what it could all actually mean.
We’ve come up with three reasons as to why Massoud decided to set the brains of Star Wars Rebels fans alight a few days ago. Reason #1: He’s secretly been cast as the live-action incarnation of Ezra Bridger, the hero of the Star Wars Rebels cartoon, in an undisclosed future Star Wars project. Reason #2: He just likes Star Wars Rebels. Reason #3: He’s bored.
We’ll discuss them all, but here’s exactly what Massoud posted on Instagram earlier this week:
The caption that came alongside this incredibly attractive photo was this: “Hey, just so you know, when I escape I won’t hurt any of you.” There’s absolutely nothing obvious that even hints at Star Wars in there, but Rebels fans recognized it as a line Ezra says to some Stormtroopers holding him captive in the second season episode “Stealth Strike.” But why would Massoud choose this extremely vague and obscure line of dialogue from a Star Wars cartoon to include in the caption?
Reason #1: He’s been cast as Ezra Bridger in an upcoming Star Wars project.
The likelihood of Ezra coming to the live-action Star Wars universe, particularly in a TV series, is pretty high. Rebels and Clone Wars creator Dave Filoni is basically the master architect of Disney’s new Star Wars shows, and he’s already brought two characters from his previous Clone Wars cartoon series, Ahsoka Tano and Bo-Katan Kryze, into live-action in the last season of The Mandalorian. Plus, Rebels ended with Ezra and Grand Admiral Thrawn sailing away on a space whale (really) to unknown parts; Filoni almost certainly has a plan for Ezra and Thrawn to return to Star Wars. After all, Ahsoka announced she’s trying to find Thrawn in her Mandalorian episode. This search will almost certainly be chronicled in the upcoming Ahsoka show, and if she succeeds, she’ll likely also find Ezra in the process.
So Ezra is almost certainly a role that needs casting, and Massoud has previously been rumored to have been linked to the role by Star Wars podcast Kessel Run Transmissions, which gained credence for its reporting in the past on The Bad Batch as the next Star Wars animated series prior to its official announcement. Plus, Massoud seems tailor-made for the job. Roughly speaking, Ezra would be around 10 years older in Mandalorian times, making him about 27 or 28. Massoud is 29. While the human race is undefined in Star Wars, the inhabitants of Lothal, Ezra’s home planet, have a “copper sheen” (according to Wookieepedia) to their skin that analogs well with Massoud’s Egyptian heritage. Also, Massoud has already worked on a big-budget Disney project, Aladdin. Suffice it to say, he has the experience and looks the part.
Sure, actors love to stir up fans and the media by dropping hints about upcoming parts, upcoming projects, upcoming possibilities. Even iZombie’s Rahul Kohli jokingly hinted that he was playing Ezra with an astoundingly unsubtle tweet last year, although he was clearly just doing a bit of trolling. Obviously, Massoud could be doing the same given the recent rumors around him, but his Rebels quote is so vague, so unremarkable except to the hardest of hardcore Star Wars fans, this would be a terrible attempt at trolling—and equally terrible and useless as an attempt to rile up fan support to get cast in the role. But it’s potentially also subtle enough not to rile up Lucasfilm execs, who like to remain as tight-lipped as possible on future projects. In short, it’s the kind of quote I would expect an actor to use if they had a big part and wanted to tease it a little without angering their corporate overlords.
Reason #2: He just likes Star Wars Rebels in general and/or Ezra Bridger in particular.
Rebels is a pretty good show, and Ezra was a nicely complex character who faced a lot of bonkers aspects of the Force that Luke Skywalker never dreamed of. There’s a reason fans love him, and desperately want to know what happened to him after he sailed away on that space whale. But if you’re just a fan, dropping this one vague, nearly unattributable quote is showing your fandom in one of the least effective ways possible.
Reason #3: He’s bored.
This seems to be the reason Massoud made his Tweet, which trolled Star Wars fans into an entertaining tizzy for a while. But again, Massoud’s quote choice is too unknown and too subtle to be effective trolling. So maybe he just thinks it’s a cool quote and used 20 seconds of his time sharing it on Instagram...but if that were the case, wouldn’t he also probably want to share who said the quote, and where it came from?
Look, I think Ezra is definitely coming to the live-action Star Wars TV galaxy, and I think Massoud’s purposefully innocuous quote choice means a lot more than if he’d made a more direct reference to Ezra or Rebels. Of course, one random Instagram caption does not the truth make—however, I personally feel comfortable enough putting my money on Massoud’s Ezra making an appearance in Ahsoka season one.
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