The full cast for Star Wars: Episode IX has been announced, and it includes Carrie Fisher, who will return thanks to Lucasfilm using deleted footage from her performances as Leia Organa. J.J. Abrams is making his return to a galaxy far, far away after directing Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015. His film will close out the first trilogy under Disney, and wrap up the events that last played out in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The next stories for Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) will be at the heart, but it was the fate of Carrie Fisher's Leia Organa that was the biggest question.
Due to Fisher's surprising death, the story for Episode IX had to be changed. She was set to be a central figure in the franchise after Han Solo and Luke Skywalker died on the screen. Even though Disney previously insisted they wouldn't bring her back, that stance has changed for Episode 9.
Lucasfilm and Disney officially announced the full cast for Star Wars: Episode IX today, including the reveal that Carrie Fisher will be part of the film using old and previously unused footage. Here is a quote from Abrams about Fisher's return:
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.
Fisher appearing in Star Wars 9 is a huge surprise at this point, but one that appears must be done. Abrams says they couldn't figure out a way to make a satisfying conclusion without her, and since her daughter Billie Lourd gave her blessing, Disney and Lucasfilm have the necessary permission to utilize her still. This confirms previous reports that Disney was speaking with Fisher's estate to make such an appearance possible.
What is fascinating about this move for Star Wars 9 is how they'll get to use Leia again. Abrams will repurpose scenes he originally filmed for The Force Awakens but were left on the cutting room floor. What scenes exactly he can reuse isn't known, but this could allow Abrams to still let Leia lead the Resistance in some ways.
Whether or not Abrams can successfully pull this off remains to be seen, but we do know that Leia was previously set to be at the forefront of the film. That came prior to Colin Trevorrow's departure, but there must be something supremely important that revolves around Leia if they couldn't resolve the story without her. Considering her son is the primary antagonist now, and her relationships with Rey and Poe, we'll have to see just how much screen time Leia actually receives.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019