WARNING: Article contains spoilers for Star Wars: Episode IX casting. Proceed at your own risk, Star Wars Fans!
Production begins to ramp up for Star Wars: Episode IX, slated to begin later this month. So too does the rumor mill. Just Friday we learned that J.J. Abrams, after a two-month process, has cast The Americans star Keri Russell to fill an unnamed role in the upcoming culmination of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Russell’s hiring comes together with the studio’s casting call earlier this year for an actress, 40-50 years in age, to fill a role code-named “MARA”. THat, of courser, has only fueled speculation that Russell will portray Expanded Universe fan-favorite Mara Jade.
Before we get too excited, remember that the casting call for The Force Awakens called for a young actress to fill the role of “KIRA”. That made many wonder if Han and Leia’s offspring from the EU would be making the leap to film. That role, of course, went to Daisy Ridley in the form of Rey. It was actually the Solo son that first appeared in Episode VII. Still, Russell as Mara Jade makes perfect sense, and would be an excellent casting choice for the role.
Is Lando Returning for Episode IX?
Not to be lost in the fervor surrounding Russell’s casting comes news out of Saskatchewan, of all places. This report furthers fans’ belief that smooth-talking scoundrel Lando Calrissian will be appearing in Episode IX, as well.
Multiple outlets reported earlier this year that 81 year-old Calrissian actor Billy Dee Williams had begun a new workout and training regimen. That mirrors the way original trilogy stars Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford did prior to announcement of their involvement with The Force Awakens.
Now, according to the Saskatchewan Entertainment Expo’s Facebook page, Williams has cancelled his planned appearance at the Expo September 15 and 16. The reason? A filming “scheduling conflict”. Even a cursory perusal of the Internet tells us Williams, who has had no live-action role since the The Man in 3B (2015), has nothing else currently on his plate.
Once production begins in earnest, I’m sure the studio will officially announce Episode IX’s cast. Until then, here’s hoping fans’ dreams of a Mara Jade appearance and a Lando return become reality.
Episode IX production begins later this month, with an expected release in December, 2019.