Star Wars: Episode IX will begin filming August 1 at London’s Pinewood Studios, with Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant joining the main cast that also will include Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian as had been tipped.
Disney and Lucasfilm also said today that the role of Leia Organa will be played by Carrie Fisher, using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Fisher, who starred in the original trilogy with Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford and appeared in 2017’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, died in December 2016.
“We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” director J.J. Abrams said in announcing the news on StarWars.com. “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.”
Abrams directs the script he co-wrote with Chris Terrio. The plot to the purported finale of the Skywalker Series of Star Wars pics is under wraps, so no clues as to the newcomer roles for Ackie and Grant.
The main cast from The Last Jedi also is back, Lucasfilm and Disney confirmed: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo and Lourd.
John Williams, who has scored every chapter in the Star Wars saga, also will return.
The film has a December 20, 2019, release date.