The stars of Star Wars: Episode VII

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The original "Star Wars" movie blasted its way onto screens a long time ago, in a cinema galaxy seemingly far, far away -- but Han, Luke and Leia will be back soon.

On Tuesday, Disney announced the cast of the film just now entering production under the name "Star Wars: Episode VII", after months of frenzied speculation among the sci-fi saga's passionate fans.

At 71, Harrison Ford may no longer have space smuggler Han Solo's roguish good looks and thick head of hair.

And 62-year-old co-star Mark Hamill will fill out Luke Skywalker's flowing Jedi robes a little more thoroughly than he once did.

But fans of the saga -- many of them disappointed by a series of prequels to the three-decade-old original trilogy -- will welcome their return and that of 57-year-old Carrie Fisher's feisty Princess Leia.

Disney, the new owner of pioneering director George Lucas' record-breaking franchise, has recruited blockbuster director J.J. Abrams to bring these fan favourites back to the screen.

And the original cast, including Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker as androids C3PO and R2-D2 and Peter Mayhew as the hairy "Wookie" warrior Chewbacca, will be joined by new, mainly younger talent.

Andy Serkis, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson, plus Hollywood veteran Max von Sydow join the "Star Wars" team.

Serkis is well known but not the most recognizable, as his biggest roles have been as the voice and movements behind motion-capture animated characters like the villainous Gollum in The Lord of the Rings.

Cast members appeared in a photo of a script reading, alongside Abrams and R2-D2, the loyal robot mechanic that has accompanied the heroes through all six movies to date.AFP



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