Episode VIII Officially Begins With New Cast Members

Episode VIII logoToday Lucasfilm officially announced the beginning of principal photography for Star Wars: Episode VIII, marking the event with a short video for fans. Coming on the heels of The Force Awakens becoming on the third film to pass $2 billion at the global box office, the news is sure to keep fans excited.

In addition, today’s announcement provides some reassurance for fans who’ve wondered if Lucasfilm and Disney have learned from past missteps. Unlike the initial Episode VII cast photo and press release, which raised eyebrows for its lack of diversity, the Episode VIII announcement points in the other direction. It reveals three new cast members, each of whom adds talent and diversity to the ensemble: Oscar-winner Benicio del Toro, who hails from Puerto Rico; Oscar-nominated actress Laura Dern; and Asian-American newcomer Kelly Marie Tran. Likewise, while fans have expressed concerns about the marketing for The Force Awakens shying away from Rey’s status as the lead character, much less her role as a lightsaber-wielding Jedi-to-be, and the implications for Lucasfilm’s commitment to truly deliver on the promise of her character, the Episode VIII news leads off with her importance:

Rey took her first steps into a larger world in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and will continue her epic journey with Finn, Poe, and Luke Skywalker in the next chapter of the continuing Star Wars saga

Over the weekend, lots of Rey merchandise for 2016 was on display from a wide variety of companies at New York Toy Fair. That’s also a big change from 2015. Even Hasbro’s quick-fix solution to its embarrassing omission of Rey from the new Star Wars Monopoly game showed up in full splendor.

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The movie’s writer and director, Rian Johnson, not only features in the video, but finished his day of work in the U.K. with a tweet that can’t help but bring a smile.

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This is what starting off on the right foot looks like.



B.J. Priester has been a Star Wars fan since he played with the original Kenner action figures as a young boy. His fandom passion returned after watching Attack of the Clones in 2002 and reading the entire New Jedi Order series in 2003. He voraciously caught up on the novels and comics in the Expanded Universe in addition to writing fanfiction, frequently co-authoring with Tricia. B.J. has served as editor of FANgirl Blog from its inception, as well as contributing reviews and posts on a range of topics. He edited Tricia’s novel Wynde, and is collaborating with her on several future projects set in that original universe. Currently a tenured law professor in Florida, B.J. has been a practicing lawyer in Washington, D.C., a law clerk to a federal appeals court judge, and a law journal editor-in-chief. He is also a proud geek dad whose son who is a big fan of Star Wars and The Clone Wars.