Lucasfilm has announced the cast for Star Wars Episode IX, the final chapter in its Skywalker saga.

Filming is to begin in London next week, the studio said.

Set for theatrical release in December 2019, the movie will feature previously unreleased footage of the late Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Fisher died in 2016 at the age of 60.

"We desperately loved Carrie Fisher," director J.J. Abrams said. "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."

Also set to return for Episode IX are Mark Hamill, who played Leia's brother Luke before the character died in the eighth movie The Last Jedi, as well as Billy Dee Williams, who played Lando Calrissian, and Anthony Daniels, who played C-3P0 in the franchise.

Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo and Billie Lourd will be back as Rey, Kylo Ren, Finn, Poe, Maz Kanata, General Hux, Rose Tico, Chewbacca and Lieutenant Connix respectively.

Joining the cast for Episode IX are Keri Russell, Richard E. Grant and Naomi Ackie.

"I saw @starwars in 1977 when I was at Drama School. Being cast in the final instalment of the Skywalker trilogy in 2018, feels like an utterly out of body experience! #StarWars⁠ ⁠ thank you #ninagold," Grant tweeted.

The project reunites Russell with director J.J. Abrams, with whom she has worked on Felicity and Mission: Impossible III.
By Karen Butler,

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