A press release from last week listed the cast of J.J. Abrams’ ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ and mentioned newcomers Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant, but not Keri Russell who had been rumored to be negotiations to join at the beginning of July. It turns out, the press release simply omitted Russell because her deal had not been finalized. Now it has been and on the official website, Russell’s name appears beside those of Ackie, Grant and the rest of the cast, including Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian), Daisy Ridley(Rey), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), and Billie Lourd (Lieutenant Connix). Carrie Fisher will appear as General Leia, thanks to unused footage that Abrams shot for ‘The Force Awakens’. This marks Williams’ first live-action appearance in the ‘Star Wars’ series since 1983’s ‘Return of the Jedi’.
Of course, there’s no word yet on who the newcomers will be playing. Ackie is a British actor and has appeared on ‘Doctor Who’ and the mystery series ‘The Five’. She has also starred in the films ‘Lady Macbeth’ and ‘Yardie’, which was directed by Idris Elba. Another ‘Doctor Who’ alum, Richard E. Grant is a familiar character actor. He played the Tenth Doctor in ‘The Curse of Fatal Death’ and voiced the Ninth Doctor in the animated ‘Scream of the Shalka’. In live action, he appeared as Doctor Walter Simeon and the Great Intelligence in ‘The Snowmen’ and ‘The Bells of Saint John’. He has also appeared in ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’, ‘The Age of Innocence’, ‘Spice World’, ‘Gosford Park’, ‘The Iron Lady’, and ‘Logan’, plus TV series like ‘Game of Thrones’, ‘Downton Abbey’, ‘Girls’ and ‘Dig’.
Russell got her start on Disney’s ‘All-New Mickey Mouse Club’ before starring on the teen soap ‘Malibu Shores’ but it was her role on Abrams’ ‘Felicity’ that really established her career. She won a Golden Globe award for that series and later appeared in Abrams’ ‘Mission: Impossible III’ as well as in films like ‘Waitress’, ‘August Rush’ and ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’. On TV she has also starred on ‘Running Wilde’ and most recently, ‘The Americans’, which just wrapped after six acclaimed seasons.
Lucasfilm tends to keep everything under wraps, but perhaps as ‘Episode IX’ gets closer to release, more information about these new characters will be made public.