Lando Calrissian's New (Old) Look
One of the biggest Episode IX announcements was that Billy Dee Williams is reprising his iconic role of Lando Calrissian in the film. Williams, who has voiced the character for numerous Star Wars projects over the years, has not appeared in one of the franchise's movies since 1983. Donald Glover portrayed a younger version of the scoundrel in Solo, but there's much excitement surrounding Williams' return. After Lando wasn't even mentioned by name in the first two sequel trilogy installments, it's nice to see him back to help bring the saga to a close.
Fans were treated to a reference photo of the elder Calrissian in his Episode IX costume, which bears strong resemblance to Glover's signature outfit in Solo. Lando is wearing a bright yellow shirt, black pants, and a black cape. It'll be fun to see what the old smoothie has been up to since viewers last saw Williams' iteration, but it's worth repeating it looks like he'll only be a supporting player. Rumors state he has a role similar to Maz Kanata in the previous movies, where he helps the main characters continue their journey. Basically, he'll be a plot catalyst.
Richard E. Grant's Character
Every Star Wars movie features new characters for fans to obsess over, and Episode IX has some high-profile additions audiences will be speculating about until December. Newly-minted Oscar nominee Richard E. Grant is among the newcomers, playing (what else?) a mysterious role. The actor's versatility means he could be a fit for just about anything in the Star Wars galaxy, but it looks like he'll be aligned with the villains. One of the reference photos reveals Grant as a "FO Officer," meaning he's working with the First Order.
With both Snoke and Captain Phasma perishing in The Last Jedi, the First Order needed some reinforcements for Episode IX. It's obviously difficult to say how substantial Grant's role will be, but he'll likely have a few key interactions with Kylo Ren and the returning General Hux. Coming off his devilishly compelling turn in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, it should be a treat to watch Grant lend his talents to the galaxy far, far away. He can gleefully chew up scenery or play something a bit more subdued, but either way, he will probably be a standout antagonist.
Dominic Monaghan's Character
Another fresh face to the sequel trilogy is Dominic Monaghan, reuniting with Abrams after their work on Lost. A late addition to the cast, Monaghan's involvement was confirmed after Episode IX began filming, leading some to believe it's a minor supporting role that doesn't factor too heavily into the narrative. There's no telling if that's in fact the case, but fans now know who the Lord of the Rings alum is playing in the latest Star Wars movie.
Like Grant, there's a reference photo of Monaghan, which refers to his character as a "Resistance Officer." This means he'll be giving a much-needed boost to the heroes' forces. Remember, at the end of The Last Jedi, the Resistance was in dire straits, with all of their members able to fit on the Millennium Falcon. It goes without saying that's no going to be enough to win a war and they'll need all the help they can get. Hopefully, Monaghan's unnamed officer is a capable warrior who can aid the cause.
Young Mon Calamari
As great as it is to see all the new aliens, Episode IX will be bringing back some classics as well. The Mon Calamari have been integral parts of the heroic forces dating back to Return of the Jedi. Admiral Ackbar was their most famous member, appearing in three films. Rogue One introduced fan-favorite Admiral Raddus, who played a key role during the Battle of Scarif when the Rebels stole the Death Star plans. Both of those noble creatures are now dead, but the Mon Calamari race is still fighting for freedom in the galaxy.
One of the reference photos showcased a "Young Mon Cal." He or she clearly won't be a principal player in the movie, but their presence should still be felt during the ubiquitous scenes on a Resistance ship where leadership plans their next move. Considering how Ackbar and Raddus had their individual moments to stand out, ideally this young Mon Cal will get a memorable scene or line to contribute to Star Wars lexicon.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019