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Star Wars: Episode VIII Begins Early Shooting Soon, Benicio Del Toro Confirmed as Villain

Early parts of filming on Star Wars: Episode VIII will start this month on the picturesque Irish island Skellig Michael.

And despite Lucasfilm's attempts the portray the production as reshoots for the next JJ Abrams directed installment, The Force Awakens (which opens in 3 months on December 18, 2015), the Wookie is now firmly out of the bag, thanks to a report in EW.

The location was used in Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens, reportedly for Luke Skywalker's secluded hideaway.

This news is hugely exciting for fans of the iconic space opera. Looper filmmaker Rian Johnson is taking charge of the untitled sequel.

However, the blockbuster has been the source of controversy on the Emerald Isle, with Irish environmental campaigners complaining that the large scale production could seriously damage the island.

But in a statement, Irish Arts Minister Heather Humphreys defended her decision to allow the mega-budget movie onto the island.

She said: "Specialist staff from my Department have been in discussions with Lucasfilm since March of this year in relation to a limited amount of filming, expected to last two to four days. 

Based on the scientific evidence available to me, I am satisfied that what is being proposed by Lucasfilm will not adversely impact the integrity of the Special Protection Area on Sceilg Mhichíl".

The only major casting news confirmed for Episode VIII is that Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro will play a villain in the movie (via /Film), which is scheduled for release on May 26, 2017. Principal photography should commence in March 2016.

And despite initial reports that director Johnson would also helm Episode IX, it has since been revealed that Colin Trevorrow will take charge of that sequel.

Helmer Trevorrow's last film was Jurassic World, which earned an incredible $1.65 billion worldwide, becoming the third highest grossing movie of all time.

Stay tuned for more Star Wars news.

Image: Following The Nerd