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'Star Wars: Episode VIII' starts filming, adds Benicio del Toro, Laura Dern

Chewbacca and Han Solo are shown in a scene from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." (www.starwars.com)

"Star Wars: Episode VIII" has begun filming and has added Benicio del Toro and Laura Dern to its cast.

Actor Benicio Del Toro (AP/Evan Agostini) and Actress Laura Dern (AP/Jordan Strauss)



The Walt Disney Co. announced that "Episode VIII" started principal photography at London's Pinewood Studios on Monday. Written and directed by Rian Johnson, the "Star Wars" sequel will follow J.J. Abrams' box-office smash "The Force Awakens." It's set for release in December 2017.

Joining returning cast members are the Oscar-winning del Toro, the Oscar-nominated Dern and newcomer Kelly Marie Tran.

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The production start announcement was accompanied by a brief video that showed shooting picking up right where "The Force Awakens" left off. (Stop here if you don't want to read a reference to the ending of "The Force Awakens.") Johnson is shown directing Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) on a remote island off the coast of Ireland.

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