The cast of Star Wars 9 has officially been announced by Disney and Lucasfilm as filming is set to kick off next week. In addition to plenty of familiar faces, both from the original trilogy and the last couple of adventures in a galaxy far, far away, some new cast members have officially boarded what is being billed as the final chapter in the Skywalker saga by the studio. Those new additions include Richard E. Grant and Naomi Ackie.

Of the two new additions, Naomi Ackie is certainly the lesser-known, but she's not a total newbie. She starred in 2016's Lady Macbeth and was part of the cast for the TV miniseries The Five. She also starred on an episode of Doctor Who. That's something she and Richard E. Grant have in common, as he's also appeared on the long-running sci-fi series. Grant is a veteran actor with years of experience under his belt, dating back to the early 80s. Some of his credits include Bram Stoker's Dracula, The Age of Innocence and Gosford Park. Comic book movie fans will know him as the villain in Logan. He also recently starred in The Hitman's Bodyguard.

Naomi Ackie adds some diversity to the Star Wars 9 cast as an African American actress. Plenty of fans have pointed out that there has been no shortage of white, brunette, British actresses in these movies during the Disney Era. Interestingly enough, the official casting announcement makes no mention of The Americans and Felicity star Keri Russell, who had reportedly joined the cast recently. It's possible that her role is going to be very secretive. Another possibility is that she didn't actually end up scoring the part. Time will tell.

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Returning Star Wars cast members for the follow-up to The Last Jedi include Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd. Mark Hamill has been confirmed to return as well. Carrie Fisher is also going to appear as Leia Organa once more. Lucasfilm will utilize unused footage shot for The Force Awakens to make this happen. So there's no need to worry of recasting or a Grand Moff Tarkin CGI situation. Anthony Daniels also returns as C-3PO and, as previously reported, Billy Dee Williams will be back as Lando Calrissian.

Director J.J. Abrams will begin filming on August 1 at Pinewood Studios in London. There is still a lot of division within the fan base following The Last Jedi, but there is a lot to potentially be excited about here. We'll be sure to keep you up to date as any new developments pop up, and there's sure to be plenty with cameras set to begin rolling in just a handful of days. Star Wars Episode IX is currently set to arrive in theaters on December 20, 2019. This news comes to us courtesy of StarWars.com.

Ryan Scott