George Whitear/Lucasfilm
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July 27, 2018 05:06 PM

Carrie Fisher will appear from beyond the grave in the upcoming Star Wars film.

On Friday, Disney and Lucasfilm revealed the official cast list for the ninth trip to a galaxy far, far away and it contained one major surprise: Fisher is back as Princess General Leia Organa, despite her shocking death in 2016.

According to the studio’s online announcement, production on the newest Star Wars adventure is expected to commence next week, on Aug. 1, and Fisher is among the listed cast members returning for the film, thanks to some unused footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  

Returning director J.J. Abrams, who co-wrote the script for Episode IX alongside Chris Terrio, said in a statement, “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 died December, 2016 at age 60 of a cardiac arrest.

RELATED VIDEO: Carrie Fisher Remembered by her Star Wars Castmates

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy had previously indicated to Entertainment Weekly that Fisher’s death would halt her involvement with the picture, saying, “Obviously, with Carrie having passed away, it shook everybody. We pretty much started over.”

Abrams, who takes over after Colin Trevorrow’s departure from the director’s chair, directed The Force Awakens.

Carrie Fisher on the set of The Last Jedi
Lucasfilm Ltd.

Also returning to the franchise are Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Lourd, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams.

As for the film’s fresh new faces, actors Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant will join the film in unspecified roles. Perhaps not surprisingly, John Williams will once again compose the film’s score, as he has done throughout the Star Wars saga.

The film is expected to hit theaters on Dec. 20, 2019.

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