Who Are the New Characters in ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’?

The cast of Star Wars: Episode IX is getting better all the time, with a Doctor Who alum being the most recent actor to join the Skywalker saga’s final chapter.

Despite this being the ending of a trilogy, Episode IX will be introducing us to a lot of new characters. There’s not a whole lot we know about them so far, but let’s run through all of Episode IX‘s casting news and speculate wildly about who they could possibly be playing.

Keri Russell

Keri Russell

Keri Russell | Earl Gibson III/Getty Images

One of the first pieces of casting we heard about was the addition of Keri Russell, who previously worked with J.J. Abrams on Felicity. Although some of the bits of casting we’re going to talk about later are technically unconfirmed, this one is official; Russell was on the cast list that Lucasfilm published last monthDeadline recently reported that Russell is going to be shooting on and off for a few months, so whatever her role is, it’s probably going to be fairly significant and more than a mere cameo.

Who might Russell be playing? Based on what we know she’s capable of, and based on what we’re already hoping to see in Episode IX, we’re going to go out on a limb and hypothesize that she’ll be one of the Knights of Ren. We got a glimpse at these characters in The Force Awakens, only for them to be absent from The Last Jedi, although that film seemed to imply that they were all students of Luke who defected with Ben Solo. Russell is close enough in age to Adam Driver for it to make sense that they both attended Luke’s Jedi Academy together, and if Episode IX is going to feature a major subplot in which the Knights of Ren turn on Ben as fans speculate, we can think of no one better to throw into the mix.

Alternatively, we should mention that there was a report earlier this year that Lucasfilm was casting a character named Mara in Episode IX, looking for an actress between the ages of 40 and 50. This obviously calls to mind Mara Jade, Luke Skywalker’s wife in the old expanded universe. Since Rusell is 42, some fans have speculated she could actually be playing Luke’s wife in flashbacks, or maybe even in the present. But seeing as Rusell is going to be filming for months, and Episode IX doesn’t seem likely to focus super heavily on Luke, we have doubts about this.

Naomi Ackie

Naomi Ackie

Naomi Ackie | Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

There’s another actress who has been confirmed to be joining Episode IX: Naomi Ackie, a relatively unknown British performer who was on an episode of Doctor Who and was in the 2016 film Lady Macbeth.

Recently, some set photos leaked showing John Boyega and Oscar Isaac filming a scene with a bunch of unknown actors surrounding them. The photos are quite blurry, but Naomi Ackie seems to be there with them. We’re going to guess that what’s happening here is that Poe and Finn go to what looks to be a new planet in order to meet with a rebel cell and gain support for the Resistance, with Naomi Ackie’s character perhaps being the leader of this cell.

For what it’s worth, That Hashtag Show previously reported that Lucasfilm was looking to cast a character named Caro, who has a “captivating naturalness and ease to her manner” and is described as being a “leader and problem solver, smart with a great sense of humor and a strong will. All this comes to her effortlessly. ” They also reported that Lucasfilm was looking for a black actress between the ages of 18 and 26, and since Ackie fits that description, it may be that this is the character she’s playing.

Richard E. Grant

Richard E. Grant

Richard E. Grant | Nicholas Hunt / Getty Images

Finally, another actor who Lucasfilm included in the official Episode IX cast list is Richard E. Grant, who you’ll recognize for a wide variety of roles, including Dr. Zander Rice in Logan.

Naturally, as soon as an older British actor gets cast in a Star Wars movie, everyone just assumes he’s playing one of the villains. Specifically, fans at first speculated that Grant could be playing Grand Admiral Thrawn, a character who originated in the books and recently had a major role in the TV show Star Wars Rebels. But Grant recently confirmed that he’s not playing this character.

We’re going to guess that Grant is simply playing a somewhat insignificant First Order officer in the movie, similar to Captain Canady in The Last Jedi.

Dominic Monaghan

Dominic Monaghan

Dominic Monaghan | Valery Hache (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

Keri Russell isn’t the only alum of a J.J. Abrams TV show to wind up in Star Wars, as Lost‘s Dominic Monaghan recently joined the project as well. This came over a month after the official cast list was released.

Way back in 2014, a rumor went around that Monaghan would be in The Force Awakens as a new Jedi character. That clearly did not end up happening, but could it be possible that there was a grain of truth to that, and Monaghan’s character was simply taken off the table until Episode IX?

It might be a long shot, and he might be too old, but we think Monaghan will be in the movie as one of the members of Rey’s new Jedi Order.

Matt Smith

Matt Smith

Matt Smith | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Turner

Finally, the last new member of the cast is Matt Smith, who played The Doctor on Doctor Who for three seasons. According to Variety, he will have a “key role.”

Once again, when you see a white British actor cast in a Star Wars movie, your first thought is that he’s playing a bad guy, and we think that’s the case here and that Smith will be a member of the First Order.

More specifically, The Last Jedi teased a conflict between General Hux and Kylo Ren in Episode IX; Hux contemplated killing Kylo when they were in Snoke’s throne room, after all. So perhaps Smith will be a new First Order character who is a crucial part of this subplot, maybe as one of Hux’s co-conspirators.

Star Wars: Episode IX opens on December 20th, 2019.