Reports suggest that Carrie Fisher, who died in December 2016 at the age of 60, will be making her final film appearance in Star Wars: Episode IX, with director J.J. Abrams featuring unused clips of the late actress in the last chapter of the franchise’s current sequel trilogy.
The announcement was made earlier on Friday, as Lucasfilm issued a press release confirming that filming on Star Wars: Episode IX will kick off on August 1 and listing the movie’s returning and debuting cast members. As stated in the release, Fisher will be reprising her role as Leia Organa, as the film will include unreleased footage of hers from 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
“We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” Abrams explained 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 CGI 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.”
As recalled by the Hollywood Reporter, Carrie Fisher died on December 27, 2016, not long after she completed work on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which was released last year. Considering her sudden passing, Lucasfilm announced that it would not be taking the same route it did with the late Peter Cushing for his Grand Moff Tarkin role in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and therefore won’t be recreating Leia Organa in digital form for Episode IX.
While there were no plans to include Carrie Fisher in Episode IX, the Hollywood Reporter noted that with J.J. Abrams taking over as director in September 2017, he co-wrote a new script for the film with Chris Terrio, and decided to include the late actress through the aforementioned unreleased clips from The Force Awakens.
Star Wars: Episode IX is scheduled to premiere on December 20, 2019, and will include several returning cast members from previous installments, including Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, and Adam Driver as Kylo Ren. Aside from Carrie Fisher making her final, posthumous film appearance as Leia, longtime Star Wars mainstays Mark Hamill and Anthony Daniels will reprise their roles as Luke Skywalker and C-3P0 respectively, while Billy Dee Williams will be appearing as Lando Calrissian, making his first appearance in a live-action Star Wars film since Return of the Jedi in 1983.