Star Wars: Here Are Your New Stars of 'Episode IX'

Lucasfilm kicked off production on Star Wars: Episode IX by announcing the full cast, including returning fan favorites like Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, and the rest of the gang from the sequel trilogy. But there are also a few new surprising names.

Actors Richard E. Grant and Naomi Ackie were revealed to be a part of J.J. Abrams upcoming movie, joined by the director's frequent collaborator Keri Russell. Russell was not initially included in the press release, but has since been added to the official site after her deal was finalized, as reported by Variety.

Russell's career ignited when she played the title role in Felicity, which was created by Abrams and War for the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves. She has since starred in The Americans, which just wrapped up its sixth and final season of FX.

In that series, she portrayed Elizabeth Jennings, an undercover KGB operative living in the United States in the early '80s. The Americans was critically acclaimed up until ending its run on the network, and earned Russell many awards nominations over the years.

Fans of superhero movies are likely to recognize Richard E. Grant from his role in Logan, in which he played the mysterious villain Dr. Zander Rice. He was the leader of the black ops group that was experimenting on children, resulting in the creation of Laura AKA X-23.

Grant also had a stint on the sixth season of Game of Thrones, playing a theater actor named Izembaro. He and his troupe perform in Braavos, where Arya Stark trains to be an assassin with the Faceless Men. She frequents their shows and eventually shirks her duties to murder one of his co-stars.

Naomi Ackie is a relative newcomer, having appeared in British productions such as Lady Macbeth and a 2015 episode of Doctor Who.

There's been no information given about their roles, though Russell is rumored to be playing a character teased in a casting call referred to as "Mara." However, it's very unlikely this character is Mara Jade from the Legends canon, as stated by creator Timothy Zahn himself.

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Given Lucasfilm's secretive nature on Star Wars productions, we're unlikely to hear about their characters until they want us to know. They are working extra hard to keep the secrets of Episode IX, including the use of old technology to prevent tampering.

We'll learn more ahead of the premier of Star Wars: Episode IX, hitting theaters in December, 2019.