Star Wars: Episode IX has finalised its cast ahead of the start of filming from Wednesday, August 1. Lucasfilm has announced that Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher would be part of the next Star Wars movie, alongside two new additions in Noami Ackie (Lady Macbeth) and Richard E. Grant (Logan). It also confirmed the participation of Keri Russell (The Americans) and Billy Dee Williams’ Lando Calrissian, which had been previously revealed by sources.
The presence of Hamill and Fisher, who play Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa, is interesting for different reasons. When the latter died in December 2016, Disney had said it would not use CGI – as it did with Grand Moff Tarkin on Rogue One – to bring back her character. In the new announcement, director J.J. Abrams reiterates that and says her role will be filled using previously unreleased footage shot during 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 [Lourd], 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.”
Hamill’s return isn’t as surprising, even though [spoiler alert] he did become one with the Force at the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But it’s unlikely that both Hamill and Fisher will have an active role in Episode IX, but rather a cameo, just like Yoda did in The Last Jedi. Williams’ Lando will possibly have a bigger role, given the character hasn’t appeared in both previous entries.
Returning cast members for Star Wars: Episode IX include Daisy Ridley as Rey, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, John Boyega as Finn, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata, Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico, Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca, and Billie Lourd as Kaydel Ko Connix. There’s no word on whom Russell, Ackie or Grant will be playing.
Abrams is also a co-writer alongside Chris Terrio (Argo, Justice League) and a producer in addition to Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, and Michelle Rejwan (The Force Awakens). John Williams will return as composer for the final time, having scored every mainline entry since 1977’s A New Hope.
Many of the people behind the camera worked with Abrams on The Force Awakens: Dan Mindel returns as cinematographer, Maryann Brandon as co-editor, Rick Carter as co-production designer, Michael Kaplan as costume designer, Neal Scanlan as creature and droid special effects, ILM’s Roger Guyett as visual effects supervisor, and Tommy Gormley as first assistant director. Newcomers include Stefan Grube as co-editor, Kevin Jenkins as co-production designer, and Victoria Mahoney as second unit director.
Star Wars: Episode IX is slated to release December 20, 2019.