Lucasfilm just made the formal announcement for Star Wars Episode IX.
As well as the expected details about the start dates for shooting and the returning cast, there was confirmation of some new actors.
However, the major news will come as a major shock to fans when the statement revealed that Leia will be back on screen.
After Carrie Fisher’s untimely death last December, her involvement in Episode 9 seemed impossible and Lucasfilm denied they would use any form of CGI, performance capture or recast the character.
So how is this possible?
Kathleen Kennedy formerly stated that Carrie Fisher would not be in Episode 9. It seems she was wrong.
The new announcement said: “The role of Leia Organa will once again be played by Carrie Fisher, using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
Director JJ Abrams added: “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.”
He added: “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.”
What is so striking is how this completely reverses any previous comments.
It also seems to bypass Rian Johnson’s divisive Last Jedi. This reinforces the impression that the directors worked on separate visions for the final trilogy, someting which frustrated many fans and lead to a uneven mix of tones and jarring storylines.
Many fans furious with Johnson and Kennedy’s vision in Episode 8 were already hoping JJ Abrams would somehow “fix” a francise they no longer saw as their own.
The announcement also revealed the full cast: “Returning cast members include Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd. Joining the cast of Episode IX are Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant, who will be joined by veteran Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams, who will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian.”