Star Wars Episode 9 – what we know so far about the final film in the trilogy

Return to a galaxy far, far away

Following the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it’s time to think about its follow-up, Episode 9. Ahead of its release in 2019, here’s what we know about the final film in the new Skywalker trilogy. Spoilers follow for The Last Jedi

Star Wars Episode 9: what’s the release date?

December 20, 2019

The film was originally set to be released on May 24, but production issues in August and September 2017 – including director and screenwriter changes – has pushed the film’s schedule back by six months.

Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker himself Mark Hamill has kickstarted the countdown to the movie:

What is the title of Episode 9?

Unknown. We probably won’t find that out until mid-2018. Some fans have suggested that the titles of the new trilogy spell the first part of a sentence: The Force awakens the last Jedi ______. ‘For The Resistance’? Who knows.

We do know, however, that the working title of the film is ‘Black Diamond’.

Daisy Ridley (Rey) is expected to appear in Star Wars Episode 9Lucasfilm/Disney

Who’s directing Episode 9?

J.J. Abrams

Colin Trevorrow – the man behind the $1bn-making blockbuster Jurassic World – was set to direct, but crashed out of the project in September, to be replaced by The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams.

Who wrote the script?

In August 2017, Jack Thorne – most famous for working with J.K. Rowling on the stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – began rewriting the untitled Star Wars Episode IX, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In September 2017 it was reported that the film was now being rewritten by the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Argo, Chris Terrio, and J.J. Abrams – meaning Thorne has presumably been replaced.

When will filming start?

In an interview on The Late Show With Stephen ColbertJ.J. Abrams confirmed that shooting towards the end of July – and that the script had been finished. “We have a script, which is a big deal for me,” he said. “It starts shooting end of July. Sometimes having the script in advance is something I haven’t always been lucky enough to have.”

John Boyega has confirmed that he’ll be filming in July, though he says he hasn’t read the script. Speaking to The One Show said: “I don’t know a thing, but I know I start filming in July. They’re prepping and planning. JJ has a script, but I just haven’t read it yet.”

Who’s in Episode 9?

In January 2018, Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata) and Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma) expressed doubts about whether they would be appearing in Episode 9. Nyong’o said: “I don’t know yet. I’ll know soon” – while Christie had this to say: “In truth I don’t know… that scares and upsets me because I really want to see this character explored. I’m actually very invested in the character now. And that’s genuine. That’s not just chat. It has opened up a chain of stories and events in my mind about who Phasma is.”

We can expect to see Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), and Billie Lourd (Lieutenant Connix). It’s currently unknown whether Benicio Del Toro will return as the stuttering conman, DJ, though he has said he’d like to continue to play him: “I hope that he’s around,” he said in December 2017, ” because I love playing him.”

The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson has addressed the possible return of Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie). Though she is presumed dead at the end of the film – when she fell into an inferno of flames on the First Order’s battleship – Johnson has said since the release of the film: “Phasma is the Kenny from South Park of this series.” Kenny dies in most episodes of South Park only to return alive and well in the next, suggesting the notably resourceful Phasma may have somehow got out of the battleship  unscathed.

Lucasfilm have confirmed they won’t be using CGI to recreate Carrie Fisher in the film, following her death in December 2016, so she is unlikely to appear at all – which could mean there is a large time gap between The Last Jedi and Episode 9.

Andy Serkis has said he would be willing to reprise his role as Snoke, who was killed off in Episode 9, telling The Hollywood Reporter: “I could quite happily — I’d be very happy to extend Snoke’s life for sure.” However, there has been no word from J.J. Abrams as to whether Snoke could be included in the next film. 

Billy Dee Williams

Billy Dee Williams

Billy Dee Williams’ return to Star Wars has now been confirmed, with the actor set to reprise his famous role as Lando Calrissian in Episode IX.

Williams first portrayed the character in The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. He went on to play Lando in the following film, Return of the Jedi (1983), but that marked his last live-action appearance in the franchise to date. A younger version of Lando was played by Atlanta‘s Donald Glover earlier this year in Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Could Luke come back as a Force ghost?

Mark Hamill (Luke) certainly seems to think so. In a tweet posted on March 14, 2018 he included an action figure of his role as Luke in The Last Jedi captioned “Senior Citizen Jedi Pension-Plan Future Force-Ghost Luke” – implying he thinks Luke will be returning as a Force ghost in Episode 9. And it’s not the first time he’s teased his fans about returning for the final movie of the new trilogy. 

In 2016, Hamill teased his character’s death in The Last Jedi – but he also stated he’d be back for Episode 9 – another hint that he’ll be returning as Luke’s Force ghost.

Since the release of The Last Jedi, director Rian Johnson has since commented on the speculation: “I don’t know where the next movie is going to go. J.J. (Abrams) and Chris Terrio are writing it right now. But it seemed like the potential of Luke crossing into a new realm, that offers exciting possibilities for the role he plays in the coming chapter. No one’s ever really gone. Again, I’m not writing the script, so I don’t know. But as a fan, I would hope [he returns].”

Will we learn anything more about Rey’s parents?

Quite possibly. Rian Johnson, the director of The Last Jedi has said the question of Rey’s parentage remains open after Kylo Ren told her in TLJ that they were “nobodies”.

Asked to explain Kylo Ren’s revelation to Rey in The Last Jedi, Johnson told HuffPost: “The easy thing would be, ‘Yes, your parents are so and so and here’s your place in the world. There you go.’ The hardest thing she could hear would be: ‘No, you’re not going to get the answer. This is not going to define you. You’re going to have to find your own place in this world. Kylo is going to use that even as leverage to try and make you feel insecure, and you’re going to have to stand on your own two feet.'”

However, Johnson said that the question of her parentage could be explored further in episode 9: “Anything’s still open,” he said, “and I’m not writing the next film. [J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio] are doing it.”

He also suggested that Kylo Ren’s revelation to Rey might not have been entirely true: “With all of these movies, Obi-Wan’s whole speech about a certain point of view always applies, so I think that you have to always think about the context of how information is given. But for me, dramatically, that’s why that reveal at that moment made sense.”

What do we know about the plot?

Nothing concrete – but we do know that Daisy Ridley cried when she found out about Rey’s fate in a former draft of the script. In Collider‘s Jedi Council podcast, SNL actor Bobby Moynihan – a friend of the film’s original director Colin Trevorrow – recounts the time when he saw Trevorrow telling Ridley what happened to her.

“I introduced him to Daisy Ridley at the SNL after-party,” he explains. “I saw a moment where she said, ‘What happens to me?’ And he said, ‘Do you want to do this now?’ And she said, ‘Yeah,’ and they went off into a corner of the bar and he whispered it into her ear and she started crying.”

It’s obviously unknown what the plot point is, or whether it’s been carried through into J.J. Abrams’ new script – but we can expect Episode 9 to bring plenty of surprises.

Speaking about the plot in an Awesome Con conference call, John Boyega (Finn) said the movie will be “all out war”. He said: “Regardless of where the story goes – and I haven’t read it, by the way – is going to be all-out war, so I know that I’m going to have to do all I can and train for that.”

Will we see Han Solo’s dice again?

Yes, probably. In the below official Star Wars video from explaining the secrets of The Last Jedi, it’s revealed that Rian Johnson originally included Han’s gold dice as a reference to The Force Awakens. In a TFA scene that was deleted after Johnson wrote The Last Jedi, Han hangs up the gold dice on the Millennium Falcon when he gets it back. In TLJ, the astral-projected version of Luke gives the gold dice to Leia – and, because that TFA scene was deleted, this now looks like a reference to the dice’s mise-en-scene presence in the original trilogy.

Star Wars story group member Matt Martin teases that the dice will be back in Episode IX by saying “wink wink” – catch the moment in the video below, which also explains how the dice are intended to help us mourn Han Solo.

How will Carrie Fisher’s death affect Episode 9?

Before her death in December 2016, Carrie Fisher had shot all of her part in Episode 8, The Last Jedi – but she was rumoured to play a key role in Episode 9 too. Fans initially worried that Lucasfilm would make the same decision it made with Peter Cushing in Rogue One and digitally recreate her with CGI, but in January the company stated the following:

“We don’t normally respond to fan or press speculation, but there is a rumour circulating that we would like to address. We want to assure our fans that Lucasfilm has no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher’s performance as Princess or General Leia Organa. Carrie Fisher was, is, and always will be a part of the Lucasfilm family. She was our princess, our general, and more importantly, our friend. We are still hurting from her loss. We cherish her memory and legacy as Princess Leia, and will always strive to honour everything she gave to Star Wars.”

Carrie Fisher will not be digitally recreated in Star Wars: Episode 9.Lucasfilm/Disney

Will John Williams score Episode 9?

Yes, but this is likely to be his last score for the Star Wars sequel. 

For a long time it wasn’t clear whether, at the age of 85, Williams would continue in his role of scoring all of the Star Wars saga (to date he has scored Episodes I-VIII, but not the Anthology films).  News of his involvement was confirmed in an interview with Variety in January 2018.

“I would very much like to complete that,” he said. “I don’t think you can retire from writing. I feel very lucky, and the work that I do doesn’t depend on much. If your vision’s still good, and your hands – I have no arthritis in my hands and I play the piano very easily – I don’t think there’s any reason to deprive oneself of the fun of working. Music is so rewarding.”

Williams indicated in interview with US radio station KUSC earlier this month that this would be his final Star Wars film. “We know JJ Abrams is preparing one [Star Wars movie] now that I will hopefully do next year for him,” he said. “I look forward it. It will round out a series of nine, that will be quite enough for me.”

Who else is on the crew?

In February 2018, the art director of Blade Runner 2049, Paul Inglis, reportedly joined the crew of Star Wars: Episode 9, suggesting the next Star Wars film’s look will be as strong as the Oscar-nominated design of the huge sci-fi film. His past experience also includes SkyfallGame of Thrones, and Prometheus. In his role as art director he helps bring the production designer’s vision to life, builds sets and helps curate the look of the film.

When will shooting begin?

In December 2016, Deadline reported that filming won’t begin for ‘about a year’ – which would be late 2017. According to a leaked casting call notice, shooting was set to begin in July 2017. In September 2017, following the departure of Colin Trevorrow – which changed the film’s production timeline – it was confirmed that the film will begin shooting in June 2018. And in February 2018, JJ Abrams verified the summer 2018 filming date in a message to Japan’s D23 Expo.

How will Episode 9 be filmed?

It’s going to be filmed on 65mm format – a first for the series. The Force Awakens was shot on 35mm, and so was The Last Jedi. 65mm film will mean Abrams will be able to work with large frames at higher quality – making the experience similar to IMAX.

What are the latest rumours?

The Millennium Falcon won’t make it through the film

On the latest episode of his podcast, Kevin Smith theorised that Han Solo’s beloved ship won’t make it through Episode 9. “They killed Han Solo in The Force Awakens.” he said. “They killed Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi. Sadly, Carrie has passed, so they have to deal with the Princess Leia of it all. But what do you think is the next big loss? I think it’s the Falcon. That would really rip all of our hearts out…

“They’ll never kill Chewie,” he continued, “because you could be Chewie for 400 years. It’s a guy in a suit. They can’t kill any of the droids, that could be anybody and stuff. But they’ve got to kill something that makes us go ‘No! I f*cking love that from my childhood!’”