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'Star Wars' Sequel Begins Shooting, Adds Benicio Del Toro And Laura Dern

He's gonna be a villain. I think he's got the look down. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)
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Congratulations, Star Wars, people liked you enough to warrant a sequel! The studio considers you a viable franchise!

On Monday, Disney announced that the production of the eighth episode of Star Wars had begun shooting at London's Pinewood Studios, where The Force Awakens was also shot). Joining the principal cast (which returns everyone but one notable exception, obviously) will be Benicio del Toro, reportedly in a villain role, and David Lynch favorite and Jurassic Park star Laura Dern. Episode VIII will also be introducing newcomer Kelly Marie Tran.

While he remains an executive producer, J.J. Abrams will be passing the directing duties to Rian Johnson, best known for Looper and the cult favorite Brick. While Abrams certainly delivered a crowd-pleaser in The Force Awakens, many fans are hoping that Johnson is able to take a step up in quality with VIII, in the same way that The Empire Strikes Back was a big upgrade from the original Star Wars film.

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A teaser video released today brings us back to that moment between Rey and Luke Skywalker at the end of The Force Awakens before it suddenly cuts to Johnson yelling "Cut!" and later announcing, "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Episode VIII!"

Kelly Marie Tran doesn't have too many major credits to her name, but the former UCLA Bruin is also an alum of iO West, UBC, and Second City and might be a familiar face from the dozens of online comedy videos in which she's appeared. EW has a good round-up of her body of work.

Star Wars: Episode VIII is scheduled to be released on December 15, 2017. If you can't wait, don't forget that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story comes out this December.