Star Wars Episode VIII officially begins production today (February 15) at Pinewood Studios in London – and a pair of previously unannounced cast members have been revealed.
Laura Dern and newcomer Kelly Marie Tran have been added to the line-up of writer-director Rian Johnson’s sequel, which will hit cinemas on December 15, 2017.
Dern, a frequent star of David Lynch’s films, has joined the film in an undisclosed role. Is there enough of a resemblance to suggest she could be mother to Daisy Ridley’s Rey?
Before Star Wars, Dern will be seen alongside Michael Keaton in The Founder, a biopic about the man who established McDonald’s. The 49-year-old also reunites with Lynch for the Twin Peaks revival in 2017.
American actress Tran has a background in comedy, having appeared in a number of CollegeHumor shorts and featured on TV shows such as About a Boy and Jimmy Kimmel Live. She will feature in Netflix’s upcoming series XoXo.
News of Episode VIII’s start of production production was accompanied by a short video teaser showing Rey handing Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) his lightsaber on the island of Ach-To.
The video appears to hint that the sequel will pick up right where the events of The Force Awakens left off.
Disney’s press release for Episode VIII reveals that the film will “continue Rey’s epic journey with Finn, Poe and Luke Skywalker in the next chapter of the continuing Star Wars saga”.
Alongside Ridley and Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie and Andy Serkis will all reprise their roles from The Force Awakens.
The press release also officially confirms Benicio Del Toro’s involvement in the film.
Harrison Ford’s name is absent from the cast list, but his character Han Solo is expected to be involved in some beyond-the-grave capacity after his name was inadvertently released in a casting call for extras.
The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams is returning in a producer capacity, alongside Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy.
Rogue One: A Star Wars story, a spinoff about a rebel heist to steal plans for the Death Star, will be the next Star Wars film in cinemas. The Gareth Edwards-directed blockbuster arrives this December with Episode VIII following 12 months later.
The trilogy closer Episode IX is scheduled to be released in May 2019. It will again be helmed by a different director, Jurassic World’s Colin Trevorrow.