'Star Wars': Mark Hamill Officially Returning for 'Episode IX'

Despite becoming one with The Force, fading into the sunset at the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker is set to return to the franchise for the Saga's conclusion.

Today, StarWars.com officially announced the initial cast list for Star Wars: Episode IX, which is set to begin production in London's Pinewood Studios on August 1. Along with the "new generation" of cast members, the list confirmed that Mark Hamill would in fact be reprising his role as the legendary Skywalker.

Also returning to the fold is Billy Dee Williams, who played Lando Calrissian in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Donald Glover portrayed a younger version of the character in Solo: A Star Wars Story earlier this year.

The other Star Wars icon joining the cast of Episode IX is Carrie Fisher, which may surprise some fans. Fisher passed away in December 2016, after filming her part in The Last Jedi. According to the new casting report, Fisher will reprise her role as General Leia Organa, using previously unreleased footage that was shot for 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

"We desperately loved Carrie Fisher," said director J.J. Abrams, who also helmed The Force Awakens. "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 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."

Other returning cast members include Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, and Anthony Daniels. The report also lists new cast members Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant.

Abrams will direct the film with a screenplay he co-wrote with Chris Terrio. Legendary composer John Williams will score the film, as expected. The movie is produced by Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Michelle Rejwan, and executive produced by Callum Greene and Jason McGatlin.

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Are you excited for Mark Hamill to return for Star Wars: Episode IX? What do you think Luke's role will be in the final chapter of the Skywalker Saga. Let us know in the comments!

Star Wars: Episode IX is currently slated to hit theaters on December 20, 2019.