Disney and LucasFilms released an video announcing they’d begun production on Star Wars: Episode VIII on Monday, along with a press release giving some details about the upcoming sequel. They also announced the beginning of principle photography, though preliminary shots were filmed as early as last September.
Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe), and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) have all confirmed to be in Episode VIII, along with Carrie Fisher (General Leia), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), and Anthony Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke).
The top-tier producers are sticking with the franchise, with J.J. Abrams returning as executive producer, with Jason McGatlin and Tom Karnowski. Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman will be leading production.
New Additions for Episode VIII
Benicio Del Toro, perhaps best known from his role in Traffic, has been saying he’d be in the movie for months now, with most suspecting he’ll play a character who leans to the Dark Side. Laura Dern, nominated for an Oscar for the recent Jurassic Park, will be in the film. While what her role may be is unknown, the announcement’s phrasing makes it sound like Episode VIII will follow Rey, so Dern may be cast as Rey’s mother.
Improv veteran but Hollywood unknown Kelly Marie Tran will also be joining the cast. Although Disney’s release calls Tran a “newcomer,” this seems a bit unfair, since she has been in multiple CollegeHumor shorts, as well as having small roles in shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live, About a Boy, and Comedy Bang! Bang! Tran is also the first presumably major Asian-American actress cast in a Star Wars film.
There’s a long list of additions (or possible replacements) to the production crew, including a new Director of Photography, Steve Yedlin, and a new Hair and Make-Up Designer, Peter Sword King. Yedlin’s most iconic work was perhaps for The Brothers Bloom, or the remake of Carrie, while King won the 2003 Academy Award for Best Makeup for The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Also joining the production crew will be editor Bob Ducsay and casting director Mary Vernieu, who were both involved with the film Looper.
One expected name is missing from the list: Billy Dee Williams. Williams, now 78, played Lando Calrissian in the second installment, The Empire Strikes Back, and many were hoping to see a reprisal of that role in the new saga, to reinforce the symmetry brought in by The Force Awakens.