4:47 pm EDT, July 27, 2018

‘Star Wars: Episode 9’ announces cast, including Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Billy Dee Williams

Lucasfilm has announced the cast of Star Wars: Episode IX ahead of principal photography beginning next week.

Notably, their statement reveals that footage of Carrie Fisher (Leia) shot for The Force Awakens will be used to include her in the ninth movie. As if that weren’t surprising enough, the studio says Mark Hamill (Luke) — who kinda had a send off in The Last Jedi — will also return.

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“We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” said director J.J. Abrams in today’s announcement. “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.”

John Williams is returning to score Episode IX, Lucasfilm says, and Billy Dee Williams is returning to the franchise to reprise his role as Lando (a character that made a return in Solo: A Star Wars Movie this past summer, though he was played by Donald Glover).

New cast members include Naomi Ackie (Lady Macbeth) and Richard E. Grant (Logan, Downton Abbey).

The aforementioned actors join Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd.

Star Wars: Episode 9 will be released in December of next year. As always, plot details are being kept under tight wraps.

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