leia, carrie fisher, star wars: the last jedi

Carrie Fisher's brother, Todd, couldn't be happier for Leia's return in Star Wars: Episode IX

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Jul 29, 2018, 12:03 PM EDT

When the official cast of Star Wars Episode IX was announced Friday, fans got quite the pleasant surprise when Carrie Fisher showed up on the list of names. The actress, who passed away in December of 2016 at the age 60, is set to appear in the J.J. Abrams-directed sequel thanks to a stockpile of unused Lucasfilm footage from Episode VII, which will be used to incorporate Fisher into the movie. 

Her daugher, Billie Lourd, approved the decision, but now Fisher's brother, Todd, is weighing in with an official statement provided to Variety, where he praises the choice to include his late sister in the final episode of the Skywalker family saga. 

“I couldn’t be more personally thrilled and happy that our Carrie will reprise her role as Princess Leia in the new and final Star Wars Episode IX, using previously unreleased footage of her shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens," he said. "As we, her family, as well as her extended family of fans around the world so believe, Carrie’s Princess Leia is forever entrenched in the franchise and her indelible presence is fundamental to the film. J.J. Abrams understood Carrie’s iconic role, and he has masterfully re-crafted this final entry to include this unused and very last footage of Carrie ever taken, without resorting to CGI or animatronics. Our family and her fans will look forward with great anticipation for this one! Her force will forever be with us!”

While we can only guess at how the previously-unseen footage is to be utilized by Abrams & co., it will probably be similar to the handling of Plutarch Heavensbee in the final Hunger Games movie, following the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Todd's statement also touches on the production's refusal to go the Rogue One route and recreate Leia by using old footage composited onto a different actor's face.

Star Wars: Episode IX arrives in theaters Dec. 20, 2019 and will feature the return of Bill Dee Williams's Lando Calrissian, as well as the addition of Keri Russell (The Americans), Naomi Ackie (Lady Macbeth) and veteran actor Richard E. Grant (Bram Stoker's Dracula).