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Star Wars Trio 'In Episode VII', Says Lucas
George Lucas has dropped the strongest hint yet that three icons of the original Star Wars movies will be appearing in the new film.
Rumours that Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are reprising their roles have been doing the rounds - but nothing has yet been confirmed by Disney.
However, Lucas has now said the stars were signed up to appear in Episode VII when he sold Lucasfilm to Disney in October last year.
"We had already signed Mark and Carrie and Harrison - or we were pretty much in final stages of negotiation," the 68-year-old told Bloomberg Businessweek.
"Maybe I'm not supposed to say that. I think they want to announce that with some big whoop-de-do, but we were negotiating with them."
Perhaps realising he had revealed too much, Lucas added: "I won't say whether the negotiations were successful or not."
Fans' appetite for the seventh movie in the franchise have been fuelled by comments by the actors themselves.
Fisher told a Florida newspaper this week she would again be playing Princess Leia. However a representative for the actress later claimed the comments were only meant as a joke.
Meanwhile, Hamill, aka Luke Skywalker, has also said that producers are "talking to us".
Disney announced in January that Lost co-creator JJ Abrams would direct the new film, due out in 2015, but the film-maker reportedly shunned the initial offer before later changing his mind.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy said: "He was immersed in finishing (Star Trek Into Darkness, the sequel to his first Star Trek movie). He felt that he might be exploring territories that were too similar."
Disney bought Lucasfilm for $4.05bn (£2.7bn) and Episodes VII, VIII and IX are being made over a roughly six-year period.
Despite the sale, Lucas said he was still involved with the new project and had been to storyline meetings to advise on technical matters relating to the Star Wars universe.