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–read that again, final installment of the Skywalker saga–which he co-wrote with Chris Terrio. But the bigger story here is the new and returning cast, which not only includes the ever-cool Billy Dee Williams as the iconic Lando Calrissian, but also returning veterans Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and the late Carrie Fisher. More on those additions in a moment.
Other 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. Also joining the cast of EPISODE IX are Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant. Composer John Williams, who has scored every chapter in the STAR WARS saga since 1977’s STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE, will return to a galaxy far, far away with EPISODE IX.
Here’s what Abrams had to say about bringing Fisher back in a posthumous performance of Leia Organa using previously unreleased footage shot for STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS:
“We desperately loved Carrie Fisher. 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.”
While some argued Leia should’ve been written out of THE LAST JEDI in post-production, there was no logical way to do it without also getting rid of Leia and Luke’s emotional reunion at the end of that film. So I think Johnson and Kennedy made the right call there, and it sounds like Abrams and Kennedy are also making the right call with regards to EPISODE IX.
It’s unclear how much unused footage featuring Fisher was shot for FORCE AWAKENS, but that film did undergo significant reshoots, so there could be quite a bit. Ultimately Abrams got that film to a place that appealed to mass audiences and STAR WARS superfans alike, but it was not an easy road.
STAR WARS EPISODE IX hits theaters in December 2019.