The J.J Abrams–directed Star Wars: Episode IX will start filming in August, and the cast was just announced via the official Star Wars website. In a surprise, Carrie Fisher is among the cast, as Abrams will apparently cut in unused footage from The Force Awakens to close the character’s story line. “We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” Abrams told the site. “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.”
Returning next-gen cast members include Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd, and they are joined by Saga veterans Mark Hamill (also something of a surprise), Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian. Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant will board the franchise for the first time. Keri Russell, who was reported to be in talks for the movie, does not appear on the cast list, though Variety’s Justin Kroll claims her deal recently closed and she will be in it. John Williams will once again provide the score.