Despite previous statements to the contrary, the late Carrie Fisher will reprise her role as Leia Organa in the upcoming Star Wars Episode IX. Lucasfilm confirmed the news as part of a broader announcement regarding casting and other details, which also revealed that Mark Hamill will be in the new movie.
In a post on the official Star Wars website, Lucasfilm said it will use “previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in order to include Fisher, who passed away in December 2016. Notably, Episode IX is being directed by JJ Abrams, who also helmed The Force Awakens before Rian Johnson took over for The Last Jedi, which was thought to be Fisher’s final Star Wars role.
“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.”
This news comes as a surprise. Fisher’s brother said last year that “recent footage” of the actress would be used to allow her to make an appearance in Episode IX. But Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy later denied this was the case, stating that Fisher would not be included in the movie. Prior to that, Lucasfilm said it would not recreate her using CGI.
It’s unclear at this point exactly what caused Lucasfilm to reverse its decision, but fans of Fisher will no doubt be excited to see her in her most famous role one last time.
Alongside Fisher, Episode IX‘s cast will feature a variety of returning actors, including Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd. Episode IX also sees Billy Dee Williams reprise his role as Lando Calrissian. Notably, Mark Hamill is also said to be among the cast members.
Episode IX is set for release in December 2019.