A New Hope: Legendary Star Wars actors pictured together as they return for sequel
The force is strong in this lot: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie fisher, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker all gather around to save the galaxy one more time
The original cast of Star Wars have all signed up for a seventh blockbuster instalment, it was revealed last night.
Director J.J. Abrams has unveiled the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII which will include original stars Mark Hamill, 62, Harrison Ford, 71, and 57-year-old Carrie Fisher who will reprise their roles as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia.
Anthony Daniels, 68, will return as the droid C-3PO, Peter Mayhew will again slip into the Chewbacca the Wookiee costume at the age if 69 and Kenny Baker, 79, will be R2-D2 once more in the debut Disney instalment of the space saga.
An incredible black-and-white picture of the new cast, with R2-D2 in a wooden crate, was released on the official Star Wars site yesterday.
The characters will have aged dramatically since the first film in 1977 when Fisher was only 21, Ford was 35 and Hamill had just turned 26.
The original stars will be joined by 50-year-old Andy Serkis - best known as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy - and veteran Minority Report star Max von Sydow, 85.
There are also relative newcomers, including British actors John Boyega, star of 2011 film Attack the Block, and Daisy Ridley, seen on TV screens as Mr Selfridge and Silent Witness.
Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson, 30, who played Bill Weasley in two Harry Potter films, and Americans Adam Driver, 30, and Oscar Isaac, 35 who starred together in cult film Inside Llewyn Davis last year, have also landed plum roles.
Driver is expected to play the main villain, described as similar to the iconic Darth Vader, who died in Return of the Jedi.
Abrams said: “We are so excited to finally share the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again.
“We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud.“
The confidential casting process has been shrouded in secrecy from the start with Disney regularly denying rumours.
Last night a relieved Daniels tweeted: “Keeping the secret in front of y’all was the hardest act I ever did.“
Several actors, such as Zac Efron and Oscar-winning Lupita Nyong’o, saw their profiles rise after being tipped to star in the new flick.
The filmmakers auditioned thousands of actors around the globe and last month the Mirror revealed Abrams had even visited the set of Downton Abbey to recruit new cast members.
Lesley Nicol, 60, who plays cook Beryl Patmore, said: “JJ Abrams came to the set last year and he is just about to do the next Star Wars movie. He loves the show, and he checked a few of us to star in the film.“
As the world’s most popular movie franchise it has grossed over £2.56billion across the globe.
It has also spawned a media franchise dubbed the Expanded Universe which includes books, television series, computer and video games, and comic books.
Abrams is directing the film from a script he has written with Lawrence Kasdan, who penned The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi.
Episode VII will start shooting at Pinewood Studios, near London, in May.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy is producing with Abrams and Bryan Burk, while Tommy Harper and Jason McGatlin will serve as executive producers. Oscar-winning composer John Williams will also return to score the film.
Disney is scheduled to release Star Wars: Episode VII on December 18 2015.