The next big Star Wars movie will begin production on Wednesday, August 1st in London, and Lucasfilm has formally announced the cast for the film. While there are no surprises regarding the actors playing the roles of the characters introduced in the sequel trilogy, there are a few major reveals: Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill will be back, and so will Billy Dee Williams, now officially confirmed to be reprising his role as Lando Calrissian, after rumors earlier this year.
Other actors reprising their roles in the untitled sequel include Daisy Ridley (Rey), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe), Lupita Nyong’o (Maz), Domhnall Gleeson (Hux), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), Billie Lourd (Ko Connix), and Anthony Daniels (C-3PO). Actors Naomi Ackie (Yardie) and Richard E. Grant (Gosford Park, Logan) will also join the cast. Lucasfilm also confirmed that Keri Russell (The Americans) will be joining the cast, in what was previously reported to be an “action-heavy” role.
Spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi ahead.
The most startling thing about the announcement comes from the three actors drawn from the original Star Wars trilogy. Hamill’s character Luke Skywalker became one with the Force after his fight with Kylo Ren at the end of The Last Jedi, while Carrie Fisher died in 2016. Her death prompted original Star Wars IX director Colin Trevorrow to drastically re-write his script before he departed the project, and Lucasfilm issued a statement promising not to use CGI to recreate the actress, as it did in Rogue One with Peter Cushing and a younger version of Carrie Fisher. Previously, Lucasfilm had stated Fisher wouldn’t be in the film at all. According to the latest statement, Fisher will appear in the film “using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
There’s no word on whether Gwendoline Christie will reprise her role as Captain Phasma after the character’s (apparent) death in The Last Jedi.
After Trevorrow’s departure, Lucasfilm brought back The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams, who re-wrote the script with Chris Terrio (Argo, Justice League, and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice). Abrams says “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.”
The film was originally slated to hit theaters in May 2019, but was bumped back to December 20th, 2019 after the change in directors.
Update July 27th, 2018, 8:50PM ET: Updated to include Lucasfilm’s confirmation that Keri Russell will be joining the cast.