Gareth Edwards, the director of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, says the movie was ''one big love letter'' to the late Carrie Fisher.

The 41-year-old English filmmaker admitted he has been unable to watch the space opera film, which ends with digitally-recreated footage of the actress as Princess Leia from the original Star Wars, since Fisher's shock passing last December.

''I've not really sat and watched the film since the opening weekend, when Carrie was still with us.

"I just feel the whole thing was, to be honest, one big love letter to Carrie," Edwards said.

''What we're doing with the entire movie is all building to that one moment [of the Death Star plans being handed to Princess Leia] where we hand the baton to her, to go off and make that film that inspired us all as kids."

''So it couldn't have ended better from that point of view," he added.

Edwards admits he feels very ''sad'' that he never got to have an in-depth chat with Fisher about the film series.

"It's just sad - I was always thinking that I would get to meet her and talk to her at some point about it, and I never really met her properly.

"I walked past her once on the set of Episode VII, I was meeting some of the crew, and she walked past me, and I had a little fanboy freakout.''

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Edwards says he was ''reassured'' to know Fisher was impressed with the CGI footage as she wasn't a fan of the technology.

 ''When it came to our film, it went so late with that shot, trying to get it right, that Kathy (Kennedy, producer) took it down personally, on a laptop, and showed her," he recalled.

''And initially Carrie apparently didn't realise it was CGI, and wondered if it was footage which we had taken from somewhere else. Which was really reassuring for us.

''I thought, one day, either at the premiere, or one of these conventions, I'd get a chance to talk to her. And it's really sad that it's not going to get to happen.''

Fisher died in December aged 60 just days after suffering a heart attack on a transatlantic flight.