Some big news has been revealed from the “Star Wars” universe, with the film franchise’s official website revealing that casting has been completed for the upcoming Episode IX, with production set to begin at London’s Pinewood Studios on Aug. 1.
The ninth film in the “Star Wars” saga will be directed by J.J. Abrams, who helmed 2015’s “The Force Awakens”.
Returning cast members will include: Daisy Ridley (Rey), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca) and Billie Lourd (Lt. Connix).
Also returning for Episode IX are “Star Wars” veterans Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Anthony Daniels (C3PO) and Billy Dee Williams, who will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian.
Joining the cast will be Naomi Ackie (“Lady Macbeth”) and Richard E. Grant (“Withnail and I”).
Meanwhile, the role of Leia Organa will once again be played by the late Carrie Fisher, using previously unreleased footage that was originally filmed for “The Force Awakens”.
“We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” says Abrams. “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 honour Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII.”
Fisher’s onscreen brother Mark Hamill admitted it felt “bittersweet” to face his “final chapter” in the “Star Wars” saga.
The still-untitled Episode IX is scheduled to hit theatres in December 2019.
Meanwhile, fan reaction to the news if Fisher’s posthumous return has ranged from ecstatic to cautious to dubious: