Although there have been numerous reports – and even social media posts from the likes of John Boyega (mostly via Instagram stories) and Oscar Isaac’s wife Elvira Lind – we finally have some comments from higher up the food chain. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and director J.J. Abrams both talked to Roya News about Jordan’s Wadi Rum:
“Wadi Rum is breathtakingly beautiful and the perfect location for our film,” says Abrams. “I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to shoot in Jordan. Between the warm welcome from the government and the dedication and hard work of the local film professionals, we couldn’t have had a better experience. We are enormously grateful.”
Producer Kathleen Kennedy said “I also want to thank the Royal Film Commission Jordan, and the Army, whose tremendous support has been invaluable, and helped make this shoot possible.”
Other than Boyega and Isaac (and maybe Anthony Daniels,) the cast has been mainly mum on who exactly is out in Jordan. There are fuzzy photos that may indicate at least one other cast member joined them, but they’re hardly conclusive.
STAR WARS – EPISODE IX – SPOLER ALERT – NOW IT CAN BE TOLD LEAK. DATELINE PINEWOOD. It's cold & raining. Demands are made to return to the wonderful warm planet of Jordan's, Wadi Rum where cast and crew spent a glorious time in a beautiful, spectacular, thrilling setting. Or two.
There’s plenty of speculation on what Jordan means for the story – understandably, a return to Jakku is a common theory – but it’s interesting that Daniels’ tweet implies it may be standing in for more than one. Curious.
Meanwhile, head below the cut for some other cast and crew tweets from the past week. Richard E. Grant on getting the job, BB-8 operator Brian Herring on getting started, who John Boyega has hugged, and Mark Hamill is in… Prague? Okay, that might not be related to IX. But hey, Millie is cute.
J.J. Abrams posted his first tweet to his personal account to mark the first day of shooting on Episode IX. “Bittersweet starting this next chapter without Carrie, but thanks to an extraordinary cast and crew, we are ready to go.” he tweeted. “Grateful for @rianjohnson and special thanks to George Lucas for creating this incredible world and beginning a story of which we are lucky to be a part. #IX”
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.
In still-rare (if minor) legitimate Episode IX news, John Boyega revealed that he’s growing out his hair for the film, hinting at the time jump most of us are expecting from the film. “The first step is growing out my hair so you can wait for the trailer to see why,” he told Yahoo. Sounds like Finn is getting a new look! (You can check out Boyega’s current hairstyle on his Instagram.)
The Last Jedi is the only episodic Star Wars film that did not begin with a significant time jump from its predecessor.