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Which actors have joined the cast for Star Wars: Episode VIII?

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Star Wars fans can begin their countdown for the franchise's next installment: Episode VIII. The forthcoming follow-up to The Force Awakens is due to start filming on Monday, but which actors will be joining the star-studded line-up?

As well as film's leading ladies, Daisy Ridley and Lupita Nyong'o, Disney has confirmed that Benicio Del Toro and Laura Dern are to join the Star Wars universe.

ben © Photo: Rex

Benicio will play a villainous character

Oscar winner Benicio is set to play a villainous character. "You know, I’m not supposed to say, but that’s what’s out there, so I’m not gonna try and fight it," he said. However, it is unknown what role Laura will take on.

Disney, which bought Star Wars production company Lucasfilm in October 2012, also announced that newcomer Kelly Marie Tran has joined the cast.

dern © Photo: Rex

Laura Dern is set to feature in the new Star Wars film

British actors Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey, and John Boyega, who stars as Finn, are rejoining the cast alongside Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie and Andy Serkis.

Lupita's return as Maz Kanata, an alien, suggests that the latest film could give fans a better understanding of the character, as critics suggested their was some haziness surrounding her background.

daisy © Photo: Rex

Daisy Ridley will return as Rey in the new film

Gwendoline has already confirmed her return as Stormtrooper chief Captain Phasma, while Domhall’s return hints that the nefarious General Hux made it off the exploding Starkiller Base at the end of JJ Abrams’s movie.

Disney announced that it was moving Episode VIII’s release back seven months from its original 26 May 2017 release date. The new film will now open in cinemas on 15 December next year.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens passed the $2bn mark last week. It is the third-highest-grossing film of all time behind 2009’s Avatar and 1997’s Titanic.