Carrie Fisher, the actress who portrayed General Leia Organa across the last eight Star Wars films, will appear in the final installment of the saga, Disney confirmed July 27. Fisher died of a heart attack, aged 60, in 2016.
Disney had previously said it wouldn’t digitally reanimate Fisher for Episode IX, although it did create a virtual version of her younger self for 2016’s spin-off film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, before she died.
Fisher will appear in the as-of-yet untitled last film about the Skywalker family, using footage shot during the making of Star Wars: The Force Awakens that didn’t make the final cut, according to a release from Disney. (Curiously, it didn’t mention including any footage from last year’s The Last Jedi.)
“We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” J.J. Abrams, who directed Fisher in The Force Awakens and will helm Episode IX, said in the release. “Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us. We were never going to recast, or use a [computer-generated] 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.”
All of the stars from the last two films will be returning, Disney confirmed, including Mark Hamill, even though his character Luke Skywalker died at the end of The Last Jedi. They’ll be joined by Billy Dee Williams, who will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian from The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi.
The film is scheduled to be released Dec. 19, 2019.