Puerto Rican actor Benicio Del Toro is in talks to play the villain in the eighth Star Wars film.

Casting for Star Wars: Episode VIII is already underway and Del Toro has been offered the high profile role, sources have told industry website Variety.com

There is no word yet on whether Del Toro, who won an Oscar in 2000 for his supporting role in the film Traffic, will be free to take on the project, which is expected to be released in May, 2017.

It's understood studio bosses have also met with Joaquin Phoenix for the part.

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The latest trailer for the latest Star Wars installment - Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been released and the force is very strong with this one. Director J.J. Abrams introduced the new teaser trailer at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim this week and it reveals a lot more than the first teaser. Some old faces appear including Han Solo, Chewbacca and R2-D2 along with the destroyed mask of Darth Vader while Mark Hamill, reprising the role of Luke Skywalker does a voiceover.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

is due for release on December 18, 2015.

- AAP