WARNING: Spoilers for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi ahead.
Disney has officially confirmed the cast list for Star Wars: Episode IX, which will see the return of The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams as he closes out the trilogy.
Among the cast are the expected stars, including Daisy Ridley reprising her role as Rey, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, John Boyega as Finn, and Kelly Marie Tran as Rose. However, it looks like Mark Hamill will be back as Luke Skywalker as well, despite what happened in The Last Jedi. More surprisingly, fans will even see the return of the late Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa. The film will mark the end of the Skywalker saga.
Carrie Fisher Will Appear In Star Wars: Episode IX
"We desperately loved Carrie Fisher," says Abrams, who adds that it was difficult to find a satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga that didn't involve such an iconic, crucial character. Recasting the role or resorting to CGI, like what happened in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, were both out of the question, according to the director.
"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."
The full list of returning cast members include Hamill, Fisher, Boyega, Tran, Ridley, Isaac, plus Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Lupita Nyong'o as Maz Kanata, Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, and Billie Lourd as Lieutenant Connix. Joining them are Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant, and Keri Russell. Finally, Billy Dee Williams will also be reprising his role as Lando Calrissian, confirming previous speculation.
Notably absent from the list is Gwendoline Christie, who played Captain Phasma in the previous two films. This could mean that her onscreen goodbye in The Last Jedi was permanent, though it's entirely possible that suppose she's alive, Disney and Lucasfilm are simply trying to keep that a secret for now.
Episode IX is scheduled to begin filming on Aug. 1. Abrams co-wrote the screenplay with Oscar-winning scribe Chris Terrio. Legendary composer of the original films, John Williams, will return to score the final film in the Skywalker saga. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, and Michelle Rejwan will serve as producers.
The film will premiere in December 2019.