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John Williams returning to score next Star Wars (+video)

It's official: John Williams is returning to a galaxy far, far, away.

The legendary composer of the six previous Star Wars films will return to score J.J. Abrams' upcoming Episode VII, it has been confirmed.

Lucasfilm president, and executive producer of the new film, Kathleen Kennedy, made the announcement during the Star Wars Celebration Europe event held in Essen, Germany, over the weekend.

"I had breakfast with someone very important to the Star Wars family last Friday, and he has committed to working on Episode VII. And that is Mr John Williams," Kennedy said at the event (via Digital Spy).

"Every time I hear John's music, it just gives me the chills. It's so important to the saga. We're all really excited that he's a part of this."

In a pre-recorded video message, Williams, 81, said of his plans for the score: "I've loved doing the Star Wars films, with all the fanfares and flourish and the 'galaxy far, far away' - I actually feel like I'm still in it, that I've never really left it."

The composer continues in the clip: "Having worked on all of the six films, I'm just happy to be continuing to be part of the whole fun of doing it.

"Of course, I haven't seen the script. The story is still unknown to me, the new story. But I can't imagine that there will not be some references to the existing stories that we know that would necessitate, and make appropriate, the use of some of the earlier themes," he said.

"Which actually for me has been part of the fun of doing film after film, because in each case I've been able to use the earlier material and develop new material that would co-exist with it and hopefully feel like a part of the fabric of the film.

"I would always prefer not to read a script and even not to hear the story and look at cue cards and so on, and wait for the moment of discovery with the audience of the film itself, so I am as surprised as they are...having not been prepared by a script."

He added, "I'm waiting anxiously, like the audience around the world, to find out what the surprises are - and to discover what my continuing role [in the story] was going to be."

Abrams had previously expressed a desire to have Williams score the next chapter in the saga, but cautioned that it was still in the "early days."

Williams said Abrams seems "for me, very young," adding, "he's also very experienced. He's had some great success with large-scale projects which are very difficult logistically and mechanically to photographically."

Speaking of Abrams and Kennedy, he concluded: "You couldn't find better candidates for this opportunity."

*See a video with Williams talking about his return here.*

Kennedy also spoke at the convention about George Lucas' early input into the tone of the upcoming movie.

"George really wanted to make sure we're going to maintain a sense of humour within the storytelling," said Kennedy (via Yahoo! Movies). "George kept saying Episode VII must be aspirational, fun, and have a sense of humour."

She also discussed the use of CGI in Episode VII.

"The conversation we're having all the time now about Episode VII is how much CGI. We're looking at what the early Star Wars films did; they used real locations with special effects. So [for Episode VII] we're going to find some very cool locations, were going to end up using every single tool in the toolbox," she said.

"I was amazed yesterday and looking at what the fans are doing [at the convention],"she noted. "Using model makers, using real droids, taking advantage of the artwork that you can touch and feel, we want to do that in combination with CG effects."

Star Wars: Episode VII, which is based on a script written by Little Miss Sunshine scribe Michael Arndt, is set for release in 2015.

Original trilogy stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford are expected to make a return in the latest chapter.

A recent report claimed that Ryan Gosling was hotly tipped to join the Star Wars universe. However, a rep for the Hollywood hunk put the kibosh on the report, telling the Huffington Post: "This is not true."

Insiders also say that Zac Efron is not (contrary to rumour) a contender to join the franchise.

No prizes for guessing how that casting rumour got started.

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- Rumour Has It

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