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.

New featurette highlights Solo’s scoundrels

Today, upon the occasion of the movie’s release, a new Solo featurette puts the spotlight on the scoundrels – aka most of the cast, really.

I’ll have a discussion post up this evening for anyone who wants to char or give their first impressions in a spoiler-safe place.

Donald Glover: “How can you not be pansexual in space?”

Lando is up for anything, writer Jon Kasdan said last week, officially declaring that the character is pansexual.

Many fans welcomed the news, but are wary – this is hardly the first time we’ve seen a LGBTQ label assigned to a character but not shown onscreen.

Donald Glover’s reaction is a lot more straightforward: “How can you not be pansexual in space?” he said during an Entertainment Weekly Radio interview. “There are so many things to have sex with. Yeah, he’s coming on to everybody. I didn’t think that was that weird.”

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Adventures in mistranslation: No one has confirmed a young Lando film

The Star Wars newsosphere was rocked this morning when Premiere France published a story where Kathleen Kennedy seemingly said that a Lando Calrissian spinoff was in the works. It all turned out to be a translation error though, and the story has since been corrected. While Kennedy isn’t ruling such a film out – and with all the love for Solo’s Donald Glover out there she’d be crazy to – but she definitely isn’t saying it’s next up after Episode IX.

In the meantime, there’s still that Obi-wan rumor to chew on. If that does end up happening for 2020, expect Lando to be the next perennial rumor.

New Flight of the Falcon series coming in the fall

A new middle-grade series based around the Millennium Falcon is coming, just in time for October’s Star Wars Reads day. The Flight of the Falcon series will begin with Lando’s Luck, a middle grade novel written by Justina Ireland with illustrations by Annie Wu. Further installments will feature Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca and James’ boy Hondo Ohnaka.

Landing at a docking bay or bookseller near you in time for Star Wars Reads in October, the series of books and comics about the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy will help connect different eras of Star Wars storytelling through the adventures aboard the beloved ship. Each fiction title will include a map to trace the literal flight path and help readers understand the time and place where each story is set.

Bazine Natel, the spy seen on Takodana in The Force Awakens, is on the hunt for the Falcon, and her intel leads her across the galaxy to Batuu, a remote outpost on the galaxy’s edge. In order to find the Falcon, Bazine must learn all she can about the infamous YT-1300 freighter—the ship that countless bounty hunters and Imperials have almost caught over the years.

“These tales take us from a time just before Solo: A Star Wars Story, when Lando and L3 had the Falcon, through the original trilogy, and into the new trilogy, ending on the incredible world of Batuu,” says Michael Siglain, Creative Director, Lucasfilm Publishing.

The series will continue with the choose-you-own-adventure A Luke and Leia Adventure, written by Cavan Scott with art by Elsa Charretier and Pirate’s Price, written by Lou Anders with art by Annie Wu, starring Han Solo, Chewbacca and Hondo Ohnaka.