Here we go. The cast has been revealed for J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode 9, and while many of the names are familiar there are a few surprises. Here are just a couple of the biggies: Mark Hamill is returning as Luke Skywalker, and Carrie Fisher is back as Leia, albeit using previously unreleased footage from The Force Awakens. We also get confirmation of Billy Dee Williams’ comeback as Lando Calrissian, and a surprising omission. See if you catch it. Here’s the roster, including a few words by Abrams…
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.
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.”
Notice it? Yeah, there’s nothing on Keri Russell, who was reported to have joined the cast a few weeks ago. Her addition seemed like a lock given her past history with Abrams, but maybe the deal fell through? Or perhaps her role is small enough to be excluded? Hard to say, but if she’s not given prominence that is very disappointing to me.
Hamill’s inclusion suggests a few things. Maybe Abrams is writing off what happened to Luke in The Last Jedi, the way some (including myself) have speculated? Or Luke will return as a creepy Force Ghost or in flashback. These options seem most likely.
And what about Carrie Fisher? I thought they would take the easy route and have Leia die between movies, so we wouldn’t have to witness it and go through that heartbreak. The tease of her death in The Last Jedi was hard enough. If Abrams is using unused footage of her it suggests Leia’s role will be small. Perhaps she will be seen in flashback, as well?
I have no clue about the characters played by the awesome Richard E. Grant, who played a key role in last year’s Logan. He’s also pretty great in Spice World. Yes, that Spice World. I don’t know anything about Naomi Ackie, other than her role in the historical drama Lady Macbeth.
Star Wars: Episode 9 opens December 20th 2019, and don’t think it missed my attention that Abrams calls it “conclusion to the Skywalker saga”. We’ll see about that.