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Carrie Fisher Will Appear in Star Wars Episode IX After All

A close-up of Carrie Fisher in The Last Jedi.
Carrie Fisher. Lucasfilm Ltd.

The cast of Star Wars Episode IX will include the late Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia after all, Lucasfilm announced on Friday. This is a reversal from Lucasfilm’s position last year, when Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said that the actress, who died in late 2016, would not appear in the film because she died before the script had even been written.

Fisher will appear in the film using unused footage from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” said director J.J. Abrams 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 [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.”

It was previously announced that Billy Dee Williams will also reprise his role as Lando Calrissian in the film, but there’s another surprise in the cast announcement as well: Mark Hamill, whose character [spoiler alert] vanished at the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, will be involved in the film somehow. Luke Skywalker’s send-off felt very final, so much so that viewers could reasonably assume that he died, but it now seems likely that, in grand Star Wars tradition, he’ll return as a Force ghost.