Star Wars: Episode IX hasn’t even begun filming yet as a start date is set for August of this year, but we already know the beloved Princess Leia portrayed by the late Carrie Fisher will make an appearance.
J.J. Abrams will return to direct the final installment of the Skywalker saga, and he also co-wrote the screenplay with Chris Terrio (Justice League, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice).
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Lucasfilm unveiled the cast earlier today, which includes Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd reprising their roles. Newcomers include Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant while longtime Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams will also be back in action.
Fisher will return through unused footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the 2015 film which marked the return of the saga that hadn’t been on the big screen since 2005’s Revenge of the Sith.
“We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” Abrams says. “Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us. We were never going to recast or use a CG character. With the support and blessing from her daughter, Billie [Lourd], we have found a way to honor Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII.”
In 2016, Fisher died at the age of 60 after suffering a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles on Dec. 23. Her death was confirmed in a statement a few days later.
She appeared in 2017’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi as filming had concluded prior to her death. In April 2017, Lourd and Fisher’s brother Todd gave Disney permission to use old footage.
Fisher told The New York Daily News, “She’s as much a part of it as anything and I think her presence now is even more powerful than it was, like Obi Wan—when the saber cuts him down he becomes more powerful. I feel like that’s what’s happened with Carrie. I think the legacy should continue.”
Lucasfilms denied Todd Fisher’s initial comments a few days after he made them, but it’s clear that things have changed, and we will see Princess Leia in Episode IX.