Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Billy Dee Williams set to return to A Galaxy Far, Far Away with JJ Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode IX
The cast of Star Wars: Episode XI has been officially confirmed, and Lucasfilm have confirmed that both Mark Hamill and the late, great Carrie Fisher will return for the eagerly awaited follow up to The Last Jedi, directed by returning Director J.J. Abrams!
According to numerous reports, Episode XI will feature never-before-seen footage of Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa, and will also feature the return of fan favourite Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian with filming set to commences on August 1 at London’s prestigious Pinewood Studios.
A statement from Star Wars read "Returning cast members include Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd.
"Joining the cast of Episode IX are Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant, who will be joined by veteran Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams, who will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian."
It was reported weeks ago that Abrams' former Felicity star Keri Russell had landed an important role in the sequel, however she isn’t included in the announcement.
Last year, Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy said "Carrie will not be in IX”, so the decision to integrate never-before-seen footage of the late star in the film seems to be a reversal following the public campaigning of Carrie's brother Todd asking the studio to reverse its decision by comparing the possibility of Leia appearing in Episode IX to having Yoda cameo in The Last Jedi.
Abrams said of the announcement "We desperately loved Carrie Fisher, 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 honour Carrie's legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII."
It was questioned if Hamill would return as Luke Skywalker, given that the beloved character became one with the force after his confrontation with Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi's climactic battle sequence.
Directed by The Force Awakens' JJ Abrams Star Wars: Episode IX will be released on December 20 2019.