Disney – the parent company of Lucasfilm – has revealed that Episode 9 of the Star Wars saga – which begins filming next week – will feature unseen footage of the late Carrie Fisher.
Fisher died suddenly after falling ill on a flight from London in December 2016, having completed her filming for The Last Jedi. She was due to be the central character in the as-yet-untitled final film of the third trilogy.
The director of the upcoming film JJ Abrams, who directed Fisher in The Force Awakens, said “We desperately loved Carrie Fisher. 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.” Disney has confirmed that the original screenplay is being reworked to accommodate the death of the actress.
The studio also revealed other casting decisions, including the return of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker – who appeared to have died in last year’s The Last Jedi. Billy Dee Williams will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian, who was first seen in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back and turned up in this year’s Solo, played as a younger man by Donald Glover.
Familiar faces from earlier films in the final trilogy will return for Episode IX, including Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson. Naomi Ackie and Richard E Grant will be among the new faces joining the Star Wars family for the end of the saga.
JJ Abrams was brought in to helm Episode IX after the departure of Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow. It is scheduled for release in December 2019.