We are slowly recovering from the excitement surrounding Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and there are already news about the sequel on the horizon.

Disney has just confirmed that Episode VIII filming is officially underway, having started on the 15th February in London. As we have been told earlier, the location of Skellig Michael was where the last moments of The Force Awakens were filmed, and it is returning for the sequel. Now, after seeing the first film, we have a good idea why.

Other important news concern the returning and new cast that have been officially announced: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver are all confirmed to return, together with Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, whom we could hope to see more than in the previous episode. From the minor roles, Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux) and Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma) are also on the official list, together with Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke). Very interesting is the confirmation of Lupita Nyongโ€™o (Maz Kanata) being present, which suggests we have not seen the last of her character, and Mazย might provide more insight into the workings of the Force or perhaps serve as counterbalance to the evil-behind-the-scenes presence of Leader Snoke.

What is even more exciting is the announcement of new cast members. There are three officially confirmed names so far: Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern and Kelly Marie Tran. Whereas the two first ones are very well established actors (you probably know Benicio Del Toro from films like Sin City and have seen Laura Dern in Jurassic Park as Dr. Ellie Sattler), Kelly Marie Tran is a fairly unknown name.ย Until now, the young actress has been appearing mostly in short movies and in comical roles. In any case, if this is going to be her first big role, it fits well with the Star Wars tradition. So far, however, it is too early to make any more specific predictions regarding the characters.

Many of the crew for Episode VIII will remain the same as in the previous film, which bodes well for the sequel. The film itself is scheduled for release before the end of 2017, on 15th December.