Filming is officially underway for Star Wars: Episode IX.
Director JJ Abrams confirmed the news on Twitter, revealing a first-look picture from the set and thanking the “extraordinary cast and crew”.
The producer and writer also admitted that it was “bittersweet” beginning production without the late Carrie Fisher.
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Bittersweet starting this next chapter without Carrie, but thanks to an extraordinary cast and crew, we are ready to go. Grateful for @rianjohnson and special thanks to George Lucas for creating this incredible world and beginning a story of which we are lucky to be a part. #IX pic.twitter.com/FOfnGwVut5
— JJ Abrams (@jjabrams) August 1, 2018
The picture above shows a shot of a camera inside what looks like the Millennium Falcon, with the blurred figures of Chewbacca, John Boyega’s Finn and a third character (Daisy Ridley’s Rey?) together in the cockpit.
Abrams also said he was “grateful” to The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, and thanked George Lucas “for creating this incredible world and beginning a story of which we are lucky to be a part.”
Fisher – who died aged 60 in December 2016 – will still feature in the film as Princess Leia/General Organa, after Abrams announced that he would use unseen footage shot with her for The Force Awakens in Episode IX.
Meanwhile Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill also tweeted about the “bittersweet” feeling of starting production without his co-star.
It's bittersweet facing my final chapter without her-She is simply irreplaceable. I'm finding solace in the fact that she won't BE replaced & would love the worldwide outpouring of affection from those who loved her when they heard the news.#CarrieOnForever pic.twitter.com/7ueMqBxQwa
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) July 29, 2018
“It’s bittersweet facing my final chapter without her,” he wrote. “She is simply irreplaceable. I’m finding solace in the fact that she won’t BE replaced & would love the worldwide outpouring of affection from those who loved her when they heard the news.”
Despite the ending of The Last Jedi, Hamill is due to reprise his role in Episode IX.
Also returning to the franchise is C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels, alongside Billy Dee Williams, who will play Lando Calrissian for the first time since 1983’s Return of the Jedi.
New characters played by Richard E Grant, Naomi Ackie and Keri Russell are also joining the movie.
Star Wars: Episode IX is due for release in cinemas in December 2019