The writer and director is Rian Johnson. He previously made Looper, The Brothers Bloom and Brick, and was also behind the camera for three episodes of Breaking Bad (Fly, Fifty-One and Ozymandias). "[He’s going to] bring a cool, sci-fi realism, if I may say that," Benicio del Toro explained of Johnson’s aesthetic last year. "I just like talking to him about the film. He’s one of those new talented people that Star Wars is hiring to infuse the franchise with new steroids."
Daisy Ridley is Rey. It's reasonable to guess that her arc this time will involve Jedi training with Luke as she begins to come to terms with what it means to be so strongly connected to the Force. Although, whether Luke actually wants a Padawan is unclear. Part of what she's dealing with is the realisation that she has this power and this gift," Rian Johnson explains. "She's taking her first step to coming to terms with this thing insider her that she never knew was there and is just starting to reveal its potential."
We also don't know who Rey's parents are yet, so that could be a thing.
John Boyega is Finn. As with Rey, we don't yet know anything about this ex-Stormtrooper's past.
Adam Driver is Kylo Ren. The erstwhile Ben Solo is dedicated to the extinction of the Jedi, so his search for his former master Luke will presumably be continuing. And now there's likely trainee Jedi Rey too.
Oscar Isaac is Poe Dameron. The expert X-Wing pilot will presumably be a part of any big scraps against The First Order. Following his apparent death and late re-appearance in The Force Awakens, some have suggested the Poe we see towards the end of the film is actually a clone of the one from the beginning. We'll see.
Mark Hamill is Luke Skywalker. The rumour mill suggests that he'll have a big part to play in Episode VIII but that we may not see him again subsequently. He is also not alone on his watery island of Ahch-To – the first Jedi temple, filmed on Ireland’s Skellig Michael. According to Variety, Luke has been living in a “Jedi village” with an indigenous race of caretaker creatures that are definitely “not Ewoks”.
Gwendoline Christie is Captain Phasma. Did she escape the trash compactor? Looks that way.
Domhnall Gleeson is General Hux.
Carrie Fisher is General Leia: sister of Luke, mother of Kylo Ren, leader of the Rebellion against The First Order, of which her son is a big part. Awkward.
It was revealed to Variety that Leia Organa would have “significantly more screentime” than she did in The Force Awakens, and that Episode IX was intended to be her movie, in the same way VII was Harrison Ford’s, and VIII will be Hamill’s. Her death has led to a recalibration of the series, with Kathy Kennedy confirming that Leia will not return for Episode IX.
Andy Serkis is Supreme Leader Snoke. We've only seen him in hologram form so far. There may be more of him this time, but we'd bet that's actually coming in Episode IX, in the way we didn't really see The Emperor until Return Of the Jedi.
Lupita Nyong'o is Maz Kanata. We've yet to learn the circumstances of her coming into possession of that lightsaber...
Anthony Daniels is C-3PO. BB-8 and R2-D2 are also back.
Peter Mayhew is Chewbacca. Lately bereft of his best friend, will he become Rey's sidekick instead?
Billie Lourd and Warwick Davis will also return.
Benicio Del Toro has been confirmed as part of the cast, and appears to be on the dark side of The Force. "I'm like the villain," he has said. According to Rian Johnson, “there’s a reason why we call him DJ.” And it’s not because he’s an intergalactic disc jockey. (Or is it? It’s not.)
Laura Dern's casting was announced in February, 2016. She will play Resistance officer Vice Admiral Holdo, and, though we know little about her character, is rumoured to be a political rival of Leia’s. Oh – and she’s got a wonderfully violet barnet.
Kelly Marie Tran is an as-yet not-much-known actress with a background in comedy bit-parts. Her character, Rose, is described as something of an everywoman, one who works in maintenance for the Resistance, but who will come to play a much bigger role than she suspects. “This possibility that any of us could step up and become a hero, that’s where Rose comes from,” Rian Johnson told the crowd at Star Wars Celebration. “She's not a soldier, she’s not looking to be a hero. But she gets pulled into a very big adventure with Finn.”
Adrian Edmondson's casting was announced by The Sun in April, although there's been little to back the story up so far. If it's true, the Young Ones/Bottom/War & Peace star will be playing... a top secret character that hasn't been revealed yet.
Veronica Ngo (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny) definitely has joined the cast as Paige.
“I don’t want to skip ahead two years,” director Rian Johnson told USA Today. “I want to see the very next moment of what happens.” According to the director, a large part of the movie will be spent addressing why Luke has sequestered himself away and what he’ll do next.
He delegated Rogue One: A Star Wars Story to Alexandre Desplat, but Star Wars warhorse John Williams remains with the numbered episodes. His Holstian themes will reverberate around Episode VIII once again.
Pinewood Studios continues to bear the brunt of the action, with filming also taking place in Dubrovnik, County Donegal and Florida (where Boynton Beach appears to be playing the part of a new planet).
Filming has also taken place on Skellig Michael again: the spectacular island off the coast of Ireland, seen at the end of The Force Awakens. Ridley has revealed that that final scene has been re-mounted, suggesting that Episode VIII will pick up exactly where Episode VII left off, rather than some time later, as we've been used to in Star Wars past. "It was so crazy doing the same scene with a different crew of people," Ridley said.
Director Rian Johnson has spoken of a new locale called Canto Bright. It’s “a Star Wars Monte Carlo-type environment, a little James Bond-ish, a little To Catch A Thief. [It’s] a playground, basically, for rich assholes”.
There was also a brief video released to mark the start of production on Feb 15:
Behind-the-scenes video released at D23:
Again, precious few official ones so far besides Annie Leibovitz's Vanity Fair shoot and trailer grabs.
Rian Johnson has posted a glimpse of Maz Kanata:
And a picture of a cloak:
Finally announced in January 2017, the official title for the movie is Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Intriguing!