Billy Dee Williams has heavily expressed interest in reprising his role as Lando Calrissian. Rian Johnson considered using him in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), but decided that it wouldn't fit well in the story. On July 9, 2018, after weeks of rumors, it was confirmed that Williams would indeed be returning as Lando for this film.
When George Lucas originally laid out plans for twelve episodes, then reduced that number to nine episodes, he said that C-3PO and R2-D2 would be the only characters to appear in all nine. This will prove to be true, as Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, the only other characters to appear in every film of both the original and prequel trilogies did not appear in the sequel trilogy. Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) will also become the only actor to appear in all nine films.
Carrie Fisher's death on December 27, 2016 initially caused rewrites for this film to remove Leia altogether. Lucasfilm made it clear that they would not attempt to digitally recreate her likeness or performance like they did (with Fisher's approval) in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), most likely due to the mixed reception of said scene and those using Peter Cushing's likeness. However, in July 2018, J.J. Abrams confirmed that Fisher will appear in the film via unused footage from Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), with the writers and editors coming up with a clever way to repurpose those scenes.
Shot on 35mm, 70mm, and 70mm IMAX, this is the third Star Wars film to be shot in the IMAX format, the first film in the franchise to be shot on 70mm film, and the first Star Wars film since Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) to be shot entirely on celluloid.
Producers had a bigger role planned for Leia prior to Carrie Fisher's death. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy remarked, "[Carrie] grabbed me and said, 'I'd better be at the forefront of IX!' Because Harrison was front and center on VII, and Mark is front and center on VIII. She thought IX would be her movie. And it would have been." After her passing, family members Todd Fisher and Billie Lourd granted Disney and Lucasfilm permission to use Carrie's likeness in the form of unused footage, but at Star Wars Celebration 2017 Kennedy stated that she would sadly not appear at all in the film. However Lucasfilm has since confirmed the use of her unused footage for episode IX.
In May 2018, Billy Dee Williams starting sharing videos on social media of his new workout regimen. This was widely taken as a sign that he would appear in Episode IX, since Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher had started similar workouts prior to shooting Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). In July 2018, it was confirmed that Williams would indeed be returning as Lando Calrissian.
Though they are no longer the main characters, each film in the sequel trilogy was meant to showcase one of the main characters from the original trilogy. The Force Awakens focused on Han, The Last Jedi on Luke, and The Rise of Skywalker will reportedly focus on Leia. This actually mirrors the original trilogy, in which Luke interacts with a central character from the prequel trilogy. The original Star Wars focused on Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Empire Strikes Back on Yoda, and Return of the Jedi on the Emperor.
Will be released on December 20, 2019. Episodes VII and VIII were both released in December 2015 and 2017, respectively. The original release date of Episode IX of May 24, 2019 was delayed after director Colin Trevorrow was replaced by J.J. Abrams in September 2017, facing a similar fate to the other Sequel Trilogy Films with their releases (being pushed from May to December). This was likely done for consistency purposes.
Theories suggesting that Mark Hamill would refuse to appear in Episode IX due to his initial disagreements with how Luke's story was handled by Rian Johnson in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), even though he was on contract for three appearances, he repeatedly explained that he changed his mind once he saw the full story. Hamill outright expressed excitement for Episode IX well ahead of the premiere of The Last Jedi and after the movie was released. The official casting announcement rendered this speculation completely moot, confirming he would in fact return.
In the film's first teaser trailer, the remains of a Death Star can be seen submerged in water. This idea was originally considered for use in The Force Awakens and was even featured as concept art in the book 'The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens'.
Colin Trevorrow was originally intended to direct the film but "chose to leave" the project due to creative differences between him and Lucasfilm. Trevorrow and Derek Connolly, who worked together on Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) wrote the initial script, but by September 2017, J.J. Abrams replaced Trevorrow as the director and Chris Terrio joined Abrams to rewrite it.
Leia was supposed to have a major role in Episode IX since she would've been the sole surviving member of the original trio, but Fisher's death nixed that. In an interview from May 2017, Kathleen Kennedy has said that Leia would've been the most important supporting character in the film, similar to Han's role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and Luke's role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). Though Fisher's death changed the content of this film substantially and is believed to have led to Colin Trevorrow's departure, she will still have a major role to play in Episode IX as Lucasfilm will be using archival footage from The Force Awakens to integrate her into the story.
Principal photography began on August 1, 2018, at Pinewood Studios near London, England. Filming was also done in Wadi Rum, Jordan. Oscar Isaac stated that Abrams was allowing more improvised acting than in the previous two films. On January 28, 2019, Anthony Daniels finished filming for his role as C-3PO in the film. Principal photography wrapped on February 15, 2019. Footage from the film was shown at the Walt Disney Company's annual shareholders meeting on March 7, 2019.
Some fans theorized online that Richard E. Grant would be portraying Grand Admiral Thrawn given his facial resemblance to the character. Grant denied this in an interview, and leaked concept art of the actor dressed in First Order attire seemingly proves so. That doesn't mean Thrawn's appearance in the film is entirely off the table, however.
Despite the Skywalker family being the main/major characters throughout the overall Star Wars saga, this is the only time the name "Skywalker" has ever appeared in a Star Wars film title, and the only title in the "core" series to actually have a character/family name in it (Solo doesn't count since it's part of the "Star Wars Story" spin-off sub-series).
Before Abrams was hired for another Star Wars film, Rian Johnson was also offered to direct after Colin Trevorrow left, but turned it down as he felt he needed time off between Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) and his next project, Knives Out (2019).
When Colin Trevorrow was attached as director during preproduction, he wanted to film some scenes in outer space itself. It is unknown whether J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm will follow through with this or not.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The design of Kylo Ren's repaired mask is possibly based on kintsugi, a centuries-old Japanese art to repair broken pottery by joining them together with a golden lacquer, giving the fractures a unique golden pattern. In Japanese culture, the kintsugi technique also stands for highlighting imperfections and giving new life to a broken object, which may be symbolic for the character: By repairing his mask, he also revives his Kylo Ren persona, despite the failures he had endured in his past.
When the trailer and title were first revealed in April of 2019, as well as the revelation that Ian McDiarmid would return as Emperor Palpatine, McDiarmid himself made a surprise appearance after the trailer was first shown at the Star Wars Celebration in Chicago. McDiarmid merely said three words, amongst loud cheers from the crowd: "Roll it again!" Followed by a mic drop. J.J. Abrams was apparently thrilled that the news of Palpatine hadn't leaked online beforehand.
Disagreements between Colin Trevorrow and Lucasfilm over Episode IX's script drafts during the early stages of production led to them mutually going their separate ways. It was reported that Rian Johnson's take on Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) ruined Trevorrow's plans for Episode IX, as he wanted to use Luke Skywalker and Supreme Leader Snoke in some capacity. Due to both of those characters' unfortunate deaths in The Last Jedi, Trevorrow was unable to come up with a new story and was let go. Carrie Fisher's death, and the changes to the script that were necessitated as a result, are believed to be a part of these creative differences.
George Lucas once stated that the entire Star Wars saga was told from the viewpoint of C-3PO and R2-D2. With the death of Han Solo, the supposed death of Luke Skywalker, and the possible death of Leia Organa following Carrie Fisher's passing, it now seems that these two characters will be the only ones to survive all nine films.
On April 12th, 2019, Kathleen Kennedy and some of the cast and crew of Star Wars Episode IX revealed the long awaited title and first teaser trailer. The biggest reveal out of the whole thing is Palpatine is allegedly to be resurrected.
After Luke Skywalker supposedly became one with the Force at the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), most fans still believed he would be appearing in Episode IX in some fashion. Rian Johnson explained that part of the reason why Luke passed on was apparently to give the character a greater amount of freedom with where his story was headed going forward. That same July, Disney and Lucasfilm announced the main cast list for Episode IX, which included Mark Hamill returning as Luke Skywalker.