TODAY | April 30, 2014
>> excited. big news for " star wars " fans all across the galaxy. we now know who will appear in the iconic franchise's next movies. willie is here with all the scoop. willie, good morning.
>> how great is this, you guys? let's get the lightsabers out. we're ready to go. it is the return of the jedi again. hans solo, luke skywalker , princess leia officially back. they join their fellow cast members for a photo that has starked international " star wars " fever. the force is with us, yet again. the internet had a collective fan boy moment tuesday when this photo was posted on the official " star wars " site, showing the cast of the franchise seventh film assembling at a london script reading. unlike the more recent trilogy of prequels, this one features three iconic characters we last saw a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away . mark hamill , carrie fisher , and harrison ford are returning for the first time since " return of the jedi " more than 30 years ago.
>> together again, huh?
>> wouldn't miss it.
>> but luke, leia, hans, and yes, chewie, will be joined by a new generation.
>> we're going to have company!
>> including " harry potter " alum domhnall gleeson. and john boyega, whose role is rumored to be the new lead.
>> it's already a more than $4 billion franchise. it has probably the most ardent fans in the world. i think the stakes are extremely high in terms of budget, the expectations and what disney, the studio is looking for.
>> while the jedi are returning, darth vader is not. for the first time, the legendary hero turned villain turned hero is absent. as is his creator george lucas , who has passed the lightsaber to j.j. abrams . abrams, fresh off directing two " star trek " films, said in a statement "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." and now the countdown to december 2015 is officially on to see how a skywalker in his 60s deals with an empire striking back again.
>> you'll find i'm full of surprises.
>> filming starts in just a few weeks, and the film opens december 18th , 2015 .
>> merry christmas !
>> have to wait a little while.
>> should we get in line right now?
>> it gives matt plenty of time to sit down and watch one through six.
>> i can't believe you.
>> i'm getting to it.
>> i wish darth vader were here right now. he could do that thing to your neck.
>> the force choke.
>> if you had seen it, you would know what that means.