Lucasfilm has kept things pretty quiet when it comes to J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode IX, but Variety is now reporting that the director has cast Keri Russell in the upcoming film. The character she’ll be playing isn’t named, but according to the report it calls for “action-heavy fight scenes.”
Russell first came to national attention as the star of Felicity back in 1998. That show, which was created by Abrams and Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), featured Russell as the titular young woman who upends her life by deciding to go to college in New York, rather than California, to pursue a potential relationship. More recently, she has earned acclaim for her intense performance on The Americans, which just ended its six-season run. That show featured Russell as Elizabeth Jennings, one-half of a married couple who are actually Soviet spies living (and killing) undercover in Cold War America.
The Star Wars franchise itself has been dealing with some recent turbulence. The standalone film Solo: A Star Wars Story vastly underperformed other entries in the series, which reportedly caused Lucasfilm to halt development of the other standalone movies on its slate. Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, on the other hand, excelled at the box-office — though it has proven to be a lightning rod for a certain subset of the fanbase that has such a problem with diversity and representative casting that it’s actually driven cast members off of social media with constant bullying and online harassment.
Episode IX, however, isn’t scheduled for release until December 20th, 2019. That gives a fanbase that may have started to fatigue of the films time to breathe, and also offers an opportunity for the ugliness of the past few months to fade from memory. Those that are fans of screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan’s contributions to the series — he co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back and The Force Awakens, amongst others — also have reason to celebrate. According to Variety, while Abrams is officially writing Episode IX solo, he has spent much of his time since accepting the gig working on the new script with Kasdan.