One of the great mysteries of the upcoming Star Wars: Episode 9 just got a little clearer.
What will happen with Gen. Leia Organa has been in question since the December 2016 death of Carrie Fisher. She had filmed all of her Episode 8 scenes before her death, but Episode 9 has not yet begun filming. Would she appear at all in Episode 9, due out Dec. 20, 2019? Would she appear via CGI, as both Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin (the late Peter Cushing) did in Rogue One?
Today, in announcing the full cast of Episode 9 and that it will start filming next week, Disney revealed the answer.
"The role of Leia Organa will once again be played by Carrie Fisher, using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens," according to a news release.
Yes, you read that correctly; that's unreleased footage from 2015's Episode 7, The Force Awakens, not last year's Episode 8, The Last Jedi. The title of Episode 9 has not been released.
"We desperately loved Carrie Fisher," director J.J. Abrams 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 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."
Mark Hamill will also appear in the new episode, despite Luke Skywalker's seeming death in Episode 8. Force ghost, anyone? Already rumored but now confirmed to be returning to the franchise is Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, who has been strangely absent since The Force Awakens. More on that here.
Also returning are Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo and Billie Lourd (Fisher's daughter). New cast members include Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant.