Carrie Fisher will posthumously reprise her iconic role of Leia Organa one more time in the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX. Lucasfilm announced the news on Friday (July 27) along with a list of other cast members signed on for the next film.
Fisher's unexpected return will be orchestrated using unreleased footage initially filmed for Star Wars: The Force Awakens — with the full support of the late star's daughter (and fellow Star Wars actress), Billie Lourd.
Fisher died suddenly at the age of 60 in December 2016 after filming Star Wars: The Last Jedi, prompting fans to wonder how the Skywalker saga could move into its final installment without one of its core characters. Apparently, director J.J. Abrams grappled with the same questions, even after Lucasfilm vowed not to digitally recreate the star.
"We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” Abrams said in a new 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 [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.”
Returning cast members Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Lourd will all appear in Episode IX. They'll join franchise staples Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams, who is set to reprise the role of Lando Calrissian for the first time since 1983's Return of the Jedi. No word yet on whether Gary the French bulldog has been tapped for another supporting role.
Star Wars: Episode IX is scheduled to begin filming August 1 in London for a December 20, 2019 release.