Lucasfilm has officially kicked off production on the final film in the Sequel Trilogy Star Wars: Episode IX by announcing the full cast. Sequel Trilogy regulars such as Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Issac and Adam Driver of course will be returning, including fan favourites Mark Hamill and it’s official, Billy Dee Williams will be joining the cast. But there are also a few new surprising names joining them too.
Actor Richard E. Grant and actress Naomi Ackie were revealed to be joining the cast for upcoming movie, joined by the director’s frequent collaborator Keri Russell. Russell was not initially included in the press release, but has since been added to the official site by LucasFilm. Now making her appearance in the film official, not rumour.
Russell was rumoured (and still is as the rumour comes from an unnamed source) to be playing a character teased in a casting call referred to as “Mara.” However, it’s very, very unlikely that this character is Mara Jade from Star Wars Legends, as stated by creator Timothy Zahn (writer of the famous Thrawn Trilogy) himself.
Probably one of the most surprising additions to the cast is that of the late great Carrie Fisher, who unfortunately passed away back in December of 2016. Her death prompted original Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow to drastically re-write his script before he departed the project and replaced with Force Awakens director and Last Jedi producer J.J. Abrams. Lucasfilm had issued a statement promising not to use CGI to recreate Carrie, as it did in Rogue One with Peter Cushing and a younger version of Leia as seen at the end of the film.
According to LucasFilm’s latest statement, Fisher will appear in the film using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. With Abrams stating:
“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 honour Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII.”
You may have noticed a certain name (or two) NOT included in the announced cast. That of Gwendoline Christie, who portrayed that Captain Phasma and Andy Serkis who portrayed Supreme Leader Snoke. Most likely will mean that these two characters have indeed met their demises in the previous film. Still, probably won’t stop some folks continuing their “Snoke Theories” for another 16 months.