Star Wars: Episode IX will feature faces old and new, Disney’s Lucasfilm division announced today with a scheduled release of December 2019. Veteran Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian) will appear, along with returning stars from the latest two installments: John Boyega, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Billie Lourd, Lupita Nyong’o, Daisy Ridley, Joonas Suotamo, and Kelly Marie Tran.
The late Carrie Fisher will also appear in Episode IX through unused footage from The Force Awakens (Episode VII), director J.J. Abrams said in a statement. Abrams added that the role of Leia Organa wouldn’t be recast or shot as a CG (computer graphics) character, but it’s unclear how previous footage and dialog will be processed to make it work with the concluding portion of the trilogy’s story line. Abrams said Fisher’s daughter, Lourd, agreed to the reprise.
Lucasfilm said John Williams will score the film. In March 2018, Williams told a radio station that Episode IX would likely be the last Star Wars film for which he provided music. Williams will have scored all nine films in the series.
Naomi Ackie, best known for a role in the 2017 film Lady Macbeth, and Richard Grant, a veteran British actor, join the cast for Episode IX. While Variety reported as late as July 6 that actress Keri Russell was in “early talks” to join the film, her name wasn’t in Friday’s announcement.
Gwendoline Christie was also absent from the announcement. She played a well-appreciated villain, Captain Phasma, in the latest two installments, though the character loses a limb and is ostensibly killed off camera. While Luke Skywalker died at the end of The Last Jedi, previous Star Wars installments have established the return of characters as “Force ghosts,” who can appear to the living.