Though it had been previously reported that Carrie Fisher would not be featured in the ninth episode of the Star Wars franchise, Disney said Friday that Fisher, who died in December 2016, will make an appearance as Princess Leia in the untitled film after all.
According to a Disney release, Leia will return thanks to unreleased footage that was shot for The Force Awakens.
“We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” director J.J. 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.”
CGI footage of Fisher was used at the end of Rogue One, sharply dividing the Stars Wars fan base.
Previously, Fisher’s family said they had given Disney permission to use Fisher’s footage in Episode IX with her brother Todd Fisher saying, “She’s as much a part of it as anything and I think her presence now is even more powerful than it was, like Obi-Wan—when the saber cuts him down he becomes more powerful. I feel like that’s what’s happened with Carrie. I think the legacy should continue.”
But Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy later refuted that by saying, “We finished everything in XIII, and Carrie is absolutely phenomenal in the movie. And we’re so happy that we were able to complete shooting in the summer. Unfortunately, Carrie passed away, so by the time we were well underway with Episode IX in our thoughts, we had not written the script yet. But we regrouped, we started over again in January. So, sadly, Carrie will not be in IX.”
Now, though, she will be in the film that is scheduled to be released in December 2019.