The upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX will feature unused footage of Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa to give the character a “truly satisfying conclusion” following the actress’ December 2016 death.
With production on the J.J. Abrams-directed Episode IX set to begin August 1st, Star Wars producers revealed that, contrary to previous announcements, Fisher would appear in the trilogy’s closing film.
“We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” Abrams said in a statement. “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, 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.”
Abrams also directed 2015’s Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens; Fisher died a year later following her work on the Rian Johnson-directed Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.
Four months after Fisher’s death, the actress’ brother Todd Fisher said that he and Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd had given Star Wars producers permission to use the unused footage.
“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,” Todd Fisher said at the time. “I feel like that’s what’s happened with Carrie. I think the legacy should continue.”
Although the Star Wars anthology film Rogue One featured a CGI-created Princess Leia, Lucasfilm pledged that they had “no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher’s performance as Princess or General Leia Organa” for Episode IX. A week later, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy stated definitively, “Sadly, Carrie will not be in [Episode] IX.” However, it appears the Leia plan changed after Episode IX‘s original director Colin Trevorrow was replaced with Abrams in September.
The Star Wars: Episode IX cast announcement also confirmed the return of Billy Dee Williams’ Lando Calrissian and, surprisingly, Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker. Other new additions to Episode IX are Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant and Keri Russell. The film arrives December 2019.