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.
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.
“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.”
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.
‘Special guests’ will be at J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy’s Thursday panel. I suspect they will be The Force Awakens folk of the younger generation. (Or, pretty much anyone who’s not Harrison Ford.)