Lucasfilm has revealed the cast for “Star Wars: Episode IX,” the next installment of its Skywalker saga, and it’s official: The late Carrie Fisher will once again appear as Leia, by way of previously unreleased footage from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
“We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” director J.J. Abrams said in a statement Friday. “Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us.
He added: “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.’”
Abrams, who will be directing “Episode IX,” served as the director for “The Force Awakens.” He also co-wrote the “Episode IX” screenplay with Chris Terrio.
Lucasfilm also confirmed that Billy Dee Williams will in fact be returning to “Star Wars,” reprising his role as Lando Calrissian.
Mark Hamill and Anthony Daniels round out the veterans from the original “Star Wars” trilogy who will be appearing in “Episode IX.”
Other returning cast members include Daisy Ridley (Rey), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe), Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca) and Billie Lourd (Connix).
Joining them will be Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant. The movie will begin filming at London’s Pinewood Studios on Aug. 1.
Friday’s announcement also noted that composer John Williams will be back to score “Episode IX.”
The film will be produced by Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy and Michelle Rejwan, while Callum Greene and Jason McGatlin will serve as executive producers.
“Star Wars: Episode IX” is scheduled to hit theaters in December 2019.
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