Star Wars: Carrie Fisher and Richard E Grant among Episode IX cast

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Carrie Fisher poses for cameras as she arrives at the European Premiere of "Star Wars, The Force Awakens" in Leicester Square, London, Britain December 16, 2015 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The late actress Carrie Fisher will appear in the film using footage recorded for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The cast for the next Star Wars film has been revealed in a surprise announcement, with a mixture of veteran stars and new faces set to appear.

The late actress Carrie Fisher will feature in Episode IX using previously unseen footage that was recorded for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The star, who played Princess Leia in the film series, died suddenly in 2016.

Billy Dee Williams, 81, will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian and Richard E Grant will join the cast.

“We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” director JJ Abrams said in a statement announcing the line-up. “Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us.”

“We have found a way to honour Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII.”

Mark Hamill, who was catapulted to fame by the first Star Wars film in 1977, will return as Luke Skywalker.

He will be joined by fellow series veteran Anthony Daniels who plays android interpreter C-3PO and is the only actor to have appeared in all of the franchise’s major films.

British actress Naomi Ackie, who starred in the 2017 film Lady Macbeth, will join the cast in an as yet unnamed role.

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Media captionWATCH: The Last Jedi visual effects revealed

Many of the names will be familiar to fans of the previous instalment, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Lupita Nyong’o and Domhnall Gleeson will all return for the new film.

The Last Jedi was a major success, generating more than $450m (£337m) in global ticket sales on its opening weekend in December.

It was the second biggest-grossing opening weekend ever in North America, trailing behind the 2015 release Star Wars: The Force Awakens which opened with $248m (£185m).

Filming for Episode IX, which does not yet have a title, will begin in London on Wednesday. It is scheduled for release in December 2019.

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