The dramatic end to the Skywalker Saga is coming soon.
Warning: This article may contain spoilers and speculation for Star Wars: Episode IX.
It’s time for the Star Wars sequel trilogy to end.
Set 30 years after Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens launched a new era for Star Wars and Lucasfilm under the Disney banner in 2015, opening up a brand new trilogy and plenty of mysteries. The Last Jedi challenged everything we knew about what a Star Wars movie can be. And now Episode IX has to weave all of its lingering threads together for a conclusion that’ll satisfy both emotionally and narratively.
No pressure, though.
We’ll have much more Star Wars for the foreseeable future thanks to rumored standalone movies starring Obi-Wan Kenobi and Boba Fett, an upcoming Star Wars trilogy from Rian Johnson, a “new series of Star Wars films” from Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, a live-action TV show from Jon Favreau, and an animated series about the Resistance. (You can see our complete list of upcoming Star Wars movies here.) But Episode IX will likely mark the end of the “Skywalker Saga,” or the main Star Wars movies that tell the story of the Skywalker family, which raises the stakes even higher.
Here’s everything we know so far about Star Wars: Episode IX.
Star Wars: Episode IX title
Lucasfilm has yet to announce the title of Star War: Episode IX, which isn’t unusual for the new Star Wars trilogy. The previous title reveals occurred more than a year before The Force Awakens’ release and just under a year before The Last Jedi’s release. The announcement of a new title can often harbor plenty of speculation and memes, which will likely be the case with Episode IX.
When a title is revealed, we will update accordingly.
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Star Wars: Episode IX news
Billy Dee Williams, who played Lando Calrissian in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, is reprising his role for Episode IX, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Fans have long believed that Lando would show up at some point in the sequel trilogy as he was one of the few remaining original trilogy characters who had yet to make an appearance. Speculation ramped up after Williams canceled a planned appearance at a convention due to a movie scheduling conflict.
Lando has long been a fan favorite. On top of the original trilogy, Lando showed up in Star Wars Rebels and in Solo: A Star Wars Story (where he was played by Donald Glover).
Early behind-the-scenes issues led to a new script as well as a new director. Production on Episode IX officially started on Aug. 1. Abrams marked the occasion on his own Twitter account as he paid tribute to Carrie Fisher and thanked Rian Johnson and George Lucas.
“Bittersweet starting this next chapter without Carrie, but thanks to an extraordinary cast and crew, we are ready to go,” Abrams wrote. “Grateful for @rianjohnson and special thanks to George Lucas for creating this incredible world and beginning a story of which we are lucky to be a part.”
On July 6, Variety reported that Keri Russell (Felicity, The Americans) is set to join the cast of Star Wars: Episode IX in a role that “calls for action-heavy fight scenes.” Little is known about the role—or what side of the war the character is affiliated with—but she was one of several actresses who met with Lucasfilm and Abrams (who co-created Felicity and directed Russell in Mission: Impossible 3) about the part.
Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World) was initially hired by Lucasfilm to write and direct Episode IX in August 2015, but he was let go just over two years later (but not before Disney hired another writer to rewrite the script). Lucasfilm announced that J.J. Abrams, who directed and co-wrote The Force Awakens, would take over the project a few days later; he’ll also be writing the script with Chris Terrio. Abrams revealed in a February 2018 interview with Stephen Colbert that Episode IX has a script.
Victoria Mahoney (Yelling to the Sky, Queen Sugar) has signed onto Episode IX as a second unit director under Abrams, making her the first woman and first person of color to direct a Star Wars movie.
Original plans for Episode IX included a bigger role for Carrie Fisher’s General Leia Organa, but after Fisher’s death in December 2016, Lucasfilm started over from scratch, leaving fans to wonder what could have been.
“She was having a blast,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy told Vanity Fair in 2017. “The minute she finished [filming The Last Jedi], she grabbed me and said, ‘I’d better be at the forefront of IX!’ Because Harrison [Ford] was front and center on VII, and Mark [Hamill] is front and center on VIII. She thought IX would be her movie. And it would have been.”
John Boyega (Finn) revealed at Awesome Con that Finn and Rey will be back together in Episode IX after spending the majority of The Last Jedi apart. At the time, he noted that he hadn’t read the script yet but said he believed it would be “all-out war.”
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Star Wars: Episode IX cast
Lucasfilm announced the official cast for Episode IX on July 27, which confirmed previous reports that Williams would reprise his role as Lando Calrissian and fan speculation that Hamill would return for Episode IX. New cast members include Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant, and Keri Russell, but Lucasfilm has not revealed their roles.
Deadline reports that Dominic Monaghan (Lost, The Lord of the Rings trilogy) is joining the cast in an undisclosed role. Monaghan notes that Star Wars was an influential part of his life and that he was “delighted to be involved.” He also posted a cryptic photo to social media close to when the news broke that featured the quote, “More powerful than you can possibly imagine,” which Obi-Wan Kenobi says to Darth Vader in A New Hope.
The returning cast includes Boyega, Daisy Ridley (Rey), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren/Ben Solo), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata), Billie Lourd (Kaydel Ko Connix), and Domhnall Gleeson (Armitage Hux). Gwendoline Christie is unlikely to return after Captain Phasma fell into the burning rubble of the Supremacy in The Last Jedi, but following that film’s release, Johnson noted that anything was possible and called Phasma “the Kenny from South Park of this series.”
Carrie Fisher will also appear in the film as Leia Organa, with Lucasfilm and Abrams noting that Fisher’s likeness wouldn’t be digitally recreated; the film will use unreleased footage shot during The Force Awakens with permission from Lourd, Fisher’s daughter.
“We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” Abrams said in a statement. “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.”
Lucasfilm shot down the original rumor in January 2017 in a rare post on Star Wars’ official website:
We don’t normally respond to fan or press speculation, but there is a rumor circulating that we would like to address. We want to assure our fans that Lucasfilm has no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher’s performance as Princess or General Leia Organa.
Carrie Fisher was, is, and always will be a part of the Lucasfilm family. She was our princess, our general, and more importantly, our friend. We are still hurting from her loss. We cherish her memory and legacy as Princess Leia, and will always strive to honor everything she gave to Star Wars.
Doctor Who and The Crown alum Matt Smith has reportedly joined the cast of Episode IX in what Variety is describing as a “key role” with no indication as to where his character’s loyalties may lie.
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Greg Grunberg, who played Temmin “Snap” Wexley” in The Force Awakens and frequently collaborates with Abrams, confirmed a report from Discussing Film that his character would return for Episode IX. The Poe Dameron comics and the Last Jedi novelization already revealed that the rest of Black Squadron survived The Last Jedi and were on a special mission to find allies during the film, but this confirms that at least one member of Poe’s squadron makes it to Episode IX. (No word yet on whether pilot Jessika Pava, portrayed by Game of Thrones and Iron Fist star Jessica Henwick, will also make another appearance.)
Star Wars: Episode IX rumors
The biggest question surrounding Episode IX—apart from the questions it has to answer, theories, and character fates—is not one of “will they die,” but rather, “will they return.”
It seems as though we’ve seen the last of Mark Hamill after Luke Skywalker’s death at the end of The Last Jedi, but questions of whether Hamill will return for Episode IX have followed him ever since. So far, Hamill has remained coy, suggesting both that he’s done playing Luke and that he’d be interested (but it’s ultimately Abrams’ call).
But death wouldn’t limit Luke from returning; he’s witnessed both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda appear to him as Force spirits, and it’s certainly possible that Luke could do that same and appear before Rey (or even to his nephew Ben).
— Clayton Sandell (@Clayton_Sandell) March 17, 2018
Yoda is also rumored to return to Episode IX as a Force spirit after his cameo in The Last Jedi.
Star Wars: Episode IX trailer
Lucasfilm has yet to release a new trailer for Episode IX, but we will update the article with one when it is released.
Star Wars: Episode IX release date
Star Wars: Episode IX was originally set to be released on May 24, 2019, but Lucasfilm officially pushed it back after it hired Abrams to direct. It’s not completely unheard of for a Star Wars movie to be delayed—The Last Jedi was similarly pushed back from May to December—but the move gave filmmakers more time after Abrams’ late entrance.
Star Wars: Episode IX will now be released on Dec. 20, 2019