It's been more than a year and a half since Carrie Fisher passed away, and while the actress has already completed work on Star Wars: The Last Jedi months before her death, the plans for Leia Organa to have a bigger role in Star Wars: Episode IX sadly had to be set aside. Ever since Fisher's passing, many Star Wars fans have wondered how Leia would be handled in Episode IX, especially since The Last Jedi ended with her still alive. While specific plot details won't be revealed for a while, director J.J. Abrams has revealed that Episode IX will incorporate unreleased footage of Fisher as Leia from The Force Awakens. In an official statement, Abrams 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.
Given that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story digitally recreated Carrie Fisher's likeness from A New Hope, there were questions about if Star Wars: Episode IX might do something similar. Lucasfilm quickly put the kibosh on the CGI idea, as well as having someone else play General Leia Organa, and a year and a half later, now we know that Episode IX will make use of footage of Fisher that didn't make it into The Force Awakens. So rather than Leia simply being mentioned, we will see her, although it will be interesting to see just how much footage will appear in the final cut. Although Leia initially looked like she was a goner early into The Last Jedi, she pulled through and escaped from Crait at the end of the movie with the other Resistance survivors aboard the Millennium Falcon. Whether Leia will die in Episode IX or make it out alive remains to be seen.
This news about the Carrie Fisher footage was included as part of the official Star Wars: Episode IX cast announcement. The familiar faces will include Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Anthony Daniels, Billie Lourd and Billy Dee Williams. As for the new actors, Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant has boarded Episode IX. It was reported a few weeks ago that Keri Russell was in talks to appear in the movie, but there was no mention of her in the announcement, nor of J.J. Abrams' longtime collaborator Greg Grunberg. It's also been confirmed that just like with all the main Star Wars installments, John Williams will be back to score Episode IX.
Star Wars: Episode IX opens in theaters on December 20, 2019, so stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates on its progress. You can also look through our Star Wars film guide to find out what other cinematic projects are in development for a galaxy far, far away.