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Star Wars Episode 8 filming begins; Laura Dern joins cast

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Laura Dern has joined the cast of Star Wars: Episode 8, Lucasfilm said this morning in announcing that production on the film has begun.

Dern's role is not known. Dern is perhaps best known to sci-fi fans as Dr. Ellie Sattler from Jurassic Park. She has been nominated for an Academy Award for acting three times, most recently for her role in 2014's Wild.

She joins Benicio Del Toro, rumored last year to be portraying one of the main villains in Episode 8. Del Toro is familiar recently for his role as the Collector in Guardians of the Galaxy, and also starred in last year's crime thriller, Sicario. He won an Oscar in 2000 for his role in Traffic.

Also in the cast is newcomer Kelly Marie Tran, who has had several television roles over the past five years but no major film credits.

The announcement from Lucasfilm noted that Episode 7 stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson and Gwendoline Christie all return, as will series veterans Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Anthony Daniels. Star Wars: Episode 8, which has yet to be subtitled, is scheduled to premiere Dec. 15, 2017.