The final installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy has had its share of casting rumors and buzzed-about returns, and with all the lingering story elements introduced in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, everyone’s eager to find out just how writer-director J.J. Abrams will wrap up this chapter in the saga. But with all the rumors floating around, what’s really going on with Episode IX?
Here’s everything we know about Star Wars: Episode IX.
[Ed. note: There are spoilers for below The Last Jedi — but seriously, that came out in December.]
When is it coming out?
Star Wars: Episode IX has a release date of Dec. 19, 2019. This is a new date; originally the film was slated for May 2019, but as with the previous two titles, Lucasfilm shifted the release to the holiday season. The fourth Avengers landing on May 3, 2019 may have something to do with the switch.
Shooting on Episode IX started in Aug. 2018.
What’s the actual title?
Update (April 12): Episode IX’s official title is The Rise of Skywalker. What could this mean? Rey’s parentage? Kylo Ren’s redemption? A new order of Jedi? It’s already fodder for many a theory.
Who’s going to be in the movie’s cast?
Almost all the surviving characters of The Last Jedi (even the seemingly deceased Luke Skywalker) are returning to Episode IX. A complete list (which will be updated as we hear more) is below:
- Daisy Ridley as Rey
- John Boyega as Finn
- Adam Driver as Kylo Ren
- Oscar Isaac as Poe
- Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker (possibly in Force Ghost form)
- Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico
- Domnhall Gleeson as General Hux
- Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata
- Billie Lourd as Lieutenant Connix
- Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca
- Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
- Greg Grunberg as Snap Wexley
- Jimmy Vee as R2-D2
- Brian Herring as the puppeteer of BB-8
What about Leia?
General Leia Organa will return to Episode IX. Rumors previously circulated that Lucasfilm would recreate the late Carrie Fisher using CGI, but Disney denied this in January 2017. Instead, unused footage of Fisher intended for Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be used in the new movie. Todd Fisher, brother of the late actress, and Billie Lourd, her daughter, both gave their permission to Disney.
What other new actors are joining the cast?
There are a few newcomers to the Star Wars franchise for Episode IX, all with unspecified roles. Here’s the complete list so far (which will be updated accordingly).
- Naomi Ackie (Lady Macbeth)
- Richard E. Grant (Withnail & I)
- Keri Russell (The Americans) in an “action-heavy role”
- Dominic Monaghan (Lost)
- Matt Smith (The Crown) in a “key role”
Update (April 12): Naomi Ackie’s character is confirmed to be named Jannah. A new droid named D-O and an alien named Klaud also join.
Any other production news?
John Williams will return to compose the soundtrack. Abrams, who previously directed The Force Awakens, replaced Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World) in September 2017. The script is written by Abrams and Chris Terrio (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League).
What’s the plot?
There’s no official synopsis yet, but Lucasfilm has said that Episode IX will be the last movie to focus on the Skywalker clan, before the franchise shifts to a new set of characters and stories. There are questions over just what might happen in IX; the Big Bad has been defeated, the Resistance is quashed, Rey’s parents are not important. But Kylo Ren and the First Order still loom, and it’s likely that since Leia was supposed to be at the center of this film (before Carrie Fisher’s untimely death), there will be a large focus on rebuilding the Resistance. It’s the last movie with a focus on the original trilogy characters, so expect some bittersweet goodbyes and heroic send-offs.
Update (April 12): J.J. Abrams announced at Star Wars Celebration that The Rise of Skywalker would take place a few years after the events of The Last Jedi. The heroes come together for one final adventure, and concept art revealed a setting that looks like one of Endor’s moons. The trailer also showed massive fragments of one of the Death Stars, someone fixing Kylo Ren’s helmet, and most ominously, Palpatine’s echoing laughter. We don’t know what this adventure entails, but with a host of new characters joining and some old ones returning, it will be a fitting ending to the entire Skywalker saga.