Episode IX begins filming August 1, confirms Williams and Fisher

J.J. Abrams’ Episode IX will begin filming on August 1 at London’s Pinewood Studios, StarWars.com has announced, confirming that Billy Dee Williams, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher (via unused The Force Awakens footage) will be returning.

Interestingly, the release calls IX “the final installment of the Skywalker saga.”

As expected, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Anthony Daniels, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd are also returning. They’re being joined by new (to Star Wars) faces, Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant.

A late addition to the release was Keri Russell, the only new-to-Star-Wars actor rumored for this round.

More details on the Fisher footage:

The role of Leia Organa will once again be played by Carrie Fisher, using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” says Abrams. “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.”

Composer John Williams and Director of Photography Dan Mindel are also returning.

Report: Billy Dee Williams returning for IX

Lando Calrissian is coming back – again. The Hollywood Reporter, backing up a Fantha Tracks report from last month, is now saying that Billy Dee Williams will reprise the role in Episode IX.

A younger version of Lando, played by Donald Glover, appeared in May’s Solo, but Billy Dee hasn’t been on screen since Return of the Jedi, though he did do some voice work as the character on Rebels.

IX is due to begin filming at the end of the month, so if this rumor does pan out, we’ll likely hear soon.

Lando Calrissian won’t be in The Last Jedi

Although the casinos of Canto Bight might seem like the perfect place to find Billy Dee Williams’ Lando Calrissian, director Rian Johnson confirms that the character won’t appear in The Last Jedi.

“No, and I don’t want fans to get their hopes up. He’s not in the film and it was never really something that came up. I mean, I loved that character. It would have been fun to see him, but it’s just not something that ever really had a place in the story.”

Maybe Lando went fully respectable in his old age? In any case, we’re not finding out just yet. We’ll see a young Lando, played by Donald Glover, in next year’s Solo.

Hayden Christensen returning to Celebration for Star Wars’ 40th Anniversary

Hayden Christensen will be returning to Celebration for the first time since 2002 as part of the 40th Anniversary panel, joining Mark Hamill, Ian McDiarmid, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Dave Filoni and Kathleen Kennedy. “Many galactic-sized surprises” are still being promised, but this is a fairly big one. (And yes, he’s signing.)

In other Celebration news, there’s now more previews up for the Store, mostly t-shirts.

We’re gonna need another scoundrel: Young Han movie seeks a Lando?

Lando, Han and the Falcon in ROTJ

The young Han Solo movie is casting for a “Chance” – aka Lando Calrissian, The Wrap reports today. With Chewbacca and (probably) the Millennium Falcon on board, it seems likely that we could be getting the tale of how Han won the ship from Lando in the first place.

UPDATE: According to Birth Movies Death, Donald Glover (Community, The Martian) is the first choice for the role.

Like Han, these are gonna be tough shoes to fill. We first met Lando, as played by Billy Dee Williams, in The Empire Strikes Back. (Empire screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan penned the script to the new film with his son Jon.) Williams has reprised the role recently on Rebels.

In less rumory news, co-director Chris Miller shared on Twitter a picture of him and Philip Lord on the Falcon set. (Presumably Episode VIII’s.) We do know they auditioned Alden Ehrenreich and other finalists for the role of Han on the Falcon set.

han-lord-miller-falcon

Video: Mark Hamill and James Arnold Taylor chat backstage at Celebration Anaheim


Backstage at Celebration, Mark Hamill chats with James Arnold Taylor about Star Wars and shared some family photos from the Return of the Jedi set. (The Force Awakens stuff starts at 7:20. #Beardwatch!)

A bunch of other Celebration videos have gone up over the past few days as well, most pulls from the livestream, including interviews with Billy Dee Williams, Ray Park, Joel Aron, Doug Chiang and Christian Alzmann, among others. And then there’s con highlights that played during the Closing Ceremonies…