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Lucasfilm announced today that their first film in the new standalone Star Wars stories series, Rogue One, has begun principal photography. Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Monsters) is directing Rogue One, which tells the story of resistance fighters who have united to steal plans to the dreaded Death Star. The film is produced by Kathleen Kennedy and is slated for a December 16, 2016 release. The best news is that Mads Mikkelsen is in it! Hannibal is going to be in Star Wars!

The filmmakers have assembled a stellar cast, including Felicity Jones, nominated for an Academy Award for her leading role in The Theory of Everything; Diego Luna, who was featured in 2008’s Oscar-winning Milk and the critically acclaimed Killing Them Softly.

It will also feature popular Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn, recently nominated for an Emmy for his leading role in Bloodline and co-starring in the upcoming Mississippi Grind.

There is another Oscar winner in Forest Whitaker, recently featured in the critically-acclaimed Lee Daniels’ The Butler and winner of an Academy Award for his leading role in 2006’s The Last King of Scotland.

But the most exciting casting news for SquareEyed is that Mads Mikkelsen will be in the film. Known in cinematic circles for his memorable turns in The Hunt and Casino Royale, Mikkelsen has garnered a large cult following for his acclaimed performance as Dr Hannibal Lecter in the recently-axed Hannibal.

Rogue One takes place before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and will be a departure from the saga films but have elements that are familiar to the Star Wars universe,” says Kathleen Kennedy. “It goes into new territory, exploring the galactic struggle from a ground-war perspective while maintaining that essentialStar Wars feel that fans have come to know. Gareth is such an innovative director and I’m so excited to be working with him and the extraordinary ensemble cast he’s selected for ‘Rogue One.’”