Exciting 'Star Wars' news! A host of new actors have been announced to join the franchise in the forthcoming movie 'Star Wars: Episode VIII', which has just started shooting today. Their characters are as yet unknown, but we'll no doubt uncover more details in the months to come.

Benicio Del ToroBenicio Del Toro joins 'Star Wars: Episode VIII'

Benicio Del Toro leads the new announcements, joining the movie following his latest film, Terrence Malick's 'Weightless'. 'The Fault in Our Stars' actress Laura Dern also adds 'Star Wars' to her busy schedule, as she continues to shoot the new 'Twin Peaks' series and the Jennifer Fox drama 'The Tale'. Plus, a new face will be added to the cast: Kelly Marie Tran, who's previously had small TV roles in the likes of 'Ladies Like Us' and 'About a Boy'. She's just finished shooting her first ever feature film, 'XOXO'.

'We are thrilled to announce Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern and Kelly Marie Tran will join Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill and director Rian Johnson for Star Wars: Episode VIII, which begins shooting at London's Pinewood Studio today', the Star Wars Facebook page read today. 'May the Force be with you, always.'

It's a positive return to the set for John Boyega, who's just picked up his Rising Star award at the BAFTAs. Despite it being his first major movie award, he had to avoid a late night celebration given his early start for 'Star Wars' shooting.

More: Will 'Star Wars: Episode IX' be shot in space?

While the plot remains unknown for 'Episode VIII', Rian Johnson ('Looper', 'Breaking Bad') has been confirmed as writer and director with JJ Abrams stepping down after the success of 'The Force Awakens'. Before this next installment, however, we'll learn a bit of backstory about the Death Star in 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' expected this year.

'Star Wars: Episode VIII' - its working title - has been given the tentative release date of December 15th 2017.