(Update: Keri Russell has now been added to the official press release over at StarWars.com)
StarWars.com has just given us a major update on Episode IX, as they have announced that filming will officially begin next week on August 1st, and have revealed the official cast of returning and new actors. You can check out the official announcement made at StarWars.com, which also reveals how they are going to use Leia in the story:
Star Wars: Episode IX will begin filming at London’s Pinewood Studios on August 1, 2018. J.J. Abrams returns to direct the final installment of the Skywalker saga. Abrams co-wrote the screenplay with Chris Terrio.
Returning cast members include Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd. Joining the cast of Episode IX are Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant, and Keri Russell, who will be joined by veteran Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams, who will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian.
The role of Leia Organa will once again be played by Carrie Fisher, using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: 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 honor Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII.”
Composer John Williams, who has scored every chapter in the Star Wars saga since 1977’s A New Hope, will return to a galaxy far, far away with Episode IX.
Star Wars: Episode IX will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Michelle Rejwan, and executive produced by Callum Greene and Jason McGatlin. The crew includes Dan Mindel (Director of Photography), Rick Carter and Kevin Jenkins (Co-Production Designers), Michael Kaplan (Costume Designer), Neal Scanlan (Creature and Droid FX), Maryann Brandon and Stefan Grube (Editors), Roger Guyett (VFX Supervisor), Tommy Gormley (1st AD), and Victoria Mahoney (2nd Unit Director).
The big news here is that J.J. Abrams will be using previously shot footage of Carrie Fisher from “The Force Awakens” to have Leia in Episode IX. We were all wondering since Carrie Fisher’s passing in 2016 how Lucasfilm will handle the character of Leia in Episode IX, and we now have our answer, which is a most welcomed surprise to me that they will be using previously unseen footage, as I have full confidence in J.J. and Lucasfilm to make it work.
I was also glad to see Mark Hamill officially announced to be returning. While we all assumed he had to come back as Force Ghost in Episode IX, it feels great to know that will officially be happening now. Same goes for the confirmation of Billy Dee Williams returning as Lando.
Only two new cast members were announced in the press release, and they are Naomi Ackie, a British actress who was in the film “Lady Macbeth” and the “Doctor Who” TV series in 2015. As well as Richard E. Grant, who I last saw play the main villain in “Logan,” but has also appeared in “Game of Thrones” season six. But what surprised me most with the announcement of these two new cast members, was that there was no mention of Keri Russell as being part of the cast, which makes me wonder if something didn’t work out with Keri Russell, and if Naomi Ackie is taking on that role now.
Lots of stuff to ponder about with this press release, the first being that it’s still hard for me to think that Episode IX is actually about to start production in a few days! But everything revealed in this announcement is already getting me super excited about the final installment of the sequel trilogy. It should be another fun ride until December 2019!