The late Carrie Fisher will posthumously appear as Leia in next year's Star Wars: Episode IX, with the filmmakers using unseen footage from 2015's The Force Awakens. Fisher's daughter, Billie Lourd, is also part of the cast again.

Director JJ Abrams, who worked with Fisher on The Force Awakens and is once again behind the lens, shared the news on Friday.

"We desperately loved Carrie Fisher," Abrams said. "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 honour Carrie's legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII."

Carrie Fisher suffered a heart attack on December 23, 2016 while on a flight from London to Los Angeles and died in hospital on December 27. She had completed her filming for 2017's Star Wars: The Last Jedi shortly before her death.

Star Wars makers Lucasfilm also revealed the rest of the cast for Episode IX on Friday, with Billy Dee Williams set to reprise his iconic role as Lando Calrissian and Withnail & I's Richard E Grant and Lady Macbeth's Naomi Ackie joining the ensemble.

Our man in a galaxy far, far away - Domhnall Gleeson is back as General Hux

Domhnall Gleeson will return alongside Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Kelly Marie Tran, Anthony Daniels and Joonas Suotamo.

Star Wars: Episode IX begins filming at Pinewood Studios in London on August 1. It will be released on December 20, 2019.

Watch our interview with JJ Abrams on the eve of the release of The Force Awakens in December 2015:

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