Work underway on Star Wars: Episode VIII, Benicio Del Toro and Laura Dern on board

By now it’s well-established that any Star Wars news is big news. After The Force Awakens set virtually every box-office record in existence this past December, a nation has turned its eyes to Episode VIII — and there’s finally something to look at.

ScreenCrush reports that Lucasfilm posted a 30-second production teaser on the official Star Wars website earlier today, announcing that work on the follow-up to one of the biggest hits in movie history is now officially underway (insert cheering and confetti popper sound effects).

The spot opens with the island from the final scene of Episode VII off in the distance, and quickly cuts to Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker … duh) staring intensely at Daisy Ridley (Rey). After a few beats, we cut to director Rian Johnson who says simply: “Cut. Beautiful!” Which is followed by the words “Episode VIII” receding into empty space. Johnson then returns to say “ladies and gentleman, welcome to Episode VIII,” which elicits an uproarious cheer from the cast and crew. The spot closes by announcing — in iconic Star Wars style– that the film is “now in production.”

While the video undoubtedly gets the juices flowing, perhaps the bigger piece of news stemming from the post is that Academy Award winner Benicio del Toro, Academy Award nominee Laura Dern, and Kelly Marie Tran are all joining the Episode VIII cast.

We’ve known for quite a while that del Toro was being eyed for a undisclosed darkside role, but Dern’s involvement comes as more of a surprise. As for Tran, the actress is a relative unknown and has appeared in a handful of TV series as well as a few CollegeHumor Originals. We’ll have to wait and see if she can parlay this role into stardom like John Boyega and Daisy Ridley before her.

No word yet on exactly what roles this trio of newcomers will play, but either way, the Star Wars hype machine is, once again, fully operational.

Star Wars: Episode VIII is set to hit theaters December 15, 2017.

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