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Felicity Jones to Play Lead Role in ‘Star Wars’ Spinoff Movie

Disney and Lucasfilm have tapped Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Jones to star in the “Star Wars” standalone movie from director Gareth Edwards.

Jones was one of several actresses to have met for the role, along with Rooney Mara and Tatiana Maslany.

Edwards (“Godzilla”) is directing the 3D feature, with Chris Weitz penning the script. Weitz replaced Gary Whitta, who wrote the first version of the screenplay.

Plot details of the “Star Wars” spinoff are unknown.

It opens nationwide Dec. 16, 2016.

Jones’ standalone movie is one of two known “Star Wars” spinoffs in the works at Lucasfilm and Disney. “Chronicle” director Josh Trank is developing a separate “Star Wars” pic.

It’s unclear how both spinoffs will play into the upcoming seventh chapter “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” if at all. Speculation has Edwards’ and Trank’s movies focusing on the early days of original characters Princess Leia and Han Solo.

The J.J. Abrams-directed “Force Awakens,” which opens Dec. 18, features original cast members Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher as well as newcomers like John Boyega and Adam Driver. It will take place 30 years after 1983’s “Return of the Jedi.”

Disney is banking heavily on the “Star Wars” franchise after acquiring Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4 billion. The studio is also planning “Star Wars”-themed attractions at Disney parks across the globe.

CEO Bob Iger recently confirmed that the eighth and ninth episodes of “Star Wars” will open in 2017 and 2019.

“I can assure the millions of ‘Star Wars’ fans who have spent the last decade hoping for a new movie, this one will be worth the wait,” he told investors. “And it’s only the beginning of a new era of exceptional ‘Star Wars’ storytelling.”

Jones, repped by WME, was recently nominated for the best actress Oscar in “The Theory of Everything” opposite Eddie Redmayne. She also co-starred in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” after breaking out in Drake Doremus’ indie love story “Like Crazy.”

The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news.

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