NEW YORK • Hot on the heels of the record-setting Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the next instalment of the franchise began filming in London on Monday, with Benicio Del Toro and Laura Dern joining the cast, Walt Disney Co announced.
Details of their characters in Star Wars: Episode VIII were not immediately available.
Del Toro recently starred in Denis Villeneuve's drug war opus Sicario (2015) and Dern appeared in the acclaimed 2014 film Wild, for which she received a 2015 Oscar nod, and 99 Homes, also from 2014.
The new movie in the blockbuster franchise will see many of the cast members in Force return - including Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Lupita Nyong'o, according to the movie's website.
Kelly Marie Tran, an Asian-American described by Disney as a "talented newcomer", is also joining the film.
While Del Toro and Dern add recognisable Hollywood fire power to the Star Wars universe, Tran has no major films under her belt and little digital footprint.
She is a member of an Upright Citizens Brigade comedy group in Los Angeles and appeared in two episodes of About A Boy, an NBC show that ended last year.
She has starred in a few videos on the Funny Or Die website and appeared in CollegeHumor videos.
Episode VIII, written and directed by Rian Johnson, the creator of Looper (2012), is scheduled for release on Dec 15 next year.
Scenes for it will also be shot in Croatia's Adriatic resort of Dubrovnik next month, city officials said last week.
From 2011, three seasons of the TV series Game Of Thrones were also filmed in Dubrovnik - dubbed the "Pearl of the Adriatic".
NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE