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Gwendoline Christie and Lupita Nyong'o join 'Star Wars: Episode VII'

On June 2 Comingsoon.net reported that actresses Lupita Nyong'o and Gwendoline Christie have been cast in "Star Wars: Episode VII," the latest film in the "Star Wars" trilogy which is scheduled for release in 2015. Production on the new film has already begun in London and Abu Dhabi, and most of the principal cast has been announced. The roles Christie and Nyong'o will play are being kept under wraps.

Gwendoline Christie
Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Christie currently stars as Brienne of Tarth on the HBO television drama "Game of Thrones," where she is a warrior who is searching for Sansa Stark. The British actress will also appear in "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1," as Commander Lyme. Nyong'o most recently won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in "12 Years a Slave," a controversial and breakout success film about slavery.

The casting makes both actresses some of the first new female additions to the science fiction franchise. Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia, will also return to reprise her role in the new series. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy mentioned that the casting was "very exciting" and adds to the "extraordinarily talented ensemble" that has been put together for the film.

The Verge posted the news on June 2 that Nyong'o was previously rumored for a role in the film, but the report was not confirmed until today. Last month, the production revealed a photo of the principal cast doing a read through of the script, and it appeared that casting was complete. The new cast also includes Andy Serkis, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Daisy Riley and Max von Sydow.

There are rumors circulating the internet that Nyong'o could somehow be related to Lando from the original series, although so far his return has not been confirmed. She could also be portraying an entirely new role and has not been seen on set for far. Christie, who is over six feet tall, could be playing a character related to Chewbacca or an unrelated role written for the new film. Filming is currently taking place in closed studios and in the open desert of Abu Dhabi, which is the scene of the desert planet Tatooine.

The film is expected to be released on December 18, 2015 with standalone films based on characters in the franchise released each year for the next three years. Lawrence Kasdan, who penned the original script, wrote the new story with J.J. Abrams who is also directing the new film. George Lucas is still involved in the production although he is not directing and sold Lucasfilm Ltd., which owns the rights to the series, to Disney last year.