Lucasfilm and their corporate overlords at Disney are on track to begin production on Star Wars: Episode IX, signifying it by officially announcing the core cast of the film. Most of the names were to be expected, with a couple of new names—and some curious returning veterans in Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher.
We already knew that Billy Dee Williams was finally going to make his return in Episode IXas the ever so smooth Lando Calrissian, but Hamill and Fisher’s return is a big news item for today. Luke Skywalker is super dead by the end of the totally-not-controversial The Last Jedi, but never, ever count out Force ghosts. According to co-writer and director J.J. Abrams, General Leia will return via unused footage that Abrams shot for The Force Awakens, despite contrary reports. No recasting, no holograms, and definitely no creepy CGI.
Abrams says in a statement:
“We desperately loved Carrie Fisher. Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us. We were never going to recast, or use a CG character. With the support and blessing from her daughter, Billie, we have found a way to honor Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII.”
Returning cast members will include Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Anthony Daniels, and Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd. Newly announced are British actors Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant, both who at some point appeared in Doctor Who. Not listed in the cast is Keri Russell, who was previously reported to appear in the film. (UPDATE: Russell was added to the website post mere hours after it went up.) And much of the crew and creatives from the previous two saga films are due to return, most notably John Williams as composer.
Filming will kick off in London on Aug. 1 of this year, with the film releasing in theaters on Dec. 20, 2019. I’m sure that Abrams and co. will end the sequel trilogy perfectly in a manner that satisfies all Star Wars fans. Yup. Uh-huh. Yeah.
Star Wars: Episode IX Cast Announced [StarWars.com]