“Star Wars: Episode IX” begins filming next week, Disney said Friday, in a shock announcement revealing it will feature both Carrie Fisher in a posthumous appearance and series star Mark Hamill.
The final installment of the Skywalker saga — which began in 1977 with “Episode IV: A New Hope” — is due for release worldwide in December next year.
It picks up the saga after the protagonist, Hamill’s Luke Skywalker, appeared to have been killed off in the last episode. Fisher’s Princess Leia was still alive at the end of 2017’s “The Last Jedi” but the actress herself died a year earlier, in December 2016.
“We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” said J.J. Abrams, who is back at the helm for “Episode IX,” having directed “Episode VII: The Force Awakens” in 2015.
“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 in a statement.
Disney said Fisher’s role would be gleaned from previously unreleased footage from “The Force Awakens,” with the blessing of her daughter, Billie Lourd.
It is not the first time Fisher’s likeness has featured in a “Star Wars” movie despite being absent from its filming.
“Rogue One,” a 2016 spin-off from the main series, directed by Gareth Edwards, had been in theaters for a couple of weeks when Fisher’s death from a heart attack was announced.
A much younger version of Fisher as Leia appears in that movie, thanks to the controversial application of computer wizardry to animate her image.
Returning cast members for the final episode include Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran and Joonas Suotamo.
Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant are among the new faces, while old “Star Wars” hands Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams return as C-3PO and Lando Calrissian.
Composer John Williams, who has scored every chapter in the “Star Wars” saga, continues his unbroken run for the next adventure.
In statement that ‘reads like a chilling warning of more coups to come,’ Trump celebrates military coup in Bolivia
"The Trump administration has cast aside the pretext of calling for new elections. Now it's praising Evo Morales' resignation at the barrel of a gun."
U.S. President Donald Trump made official his administration's support for the military coup in Bolivia with a celebratory statement late Monday that one observer said "reads like a chilling warning of more coups to come."
Send in the clowns: Impeachment is serious stuff, but the GOP wants a circus
The impeachment of Donald Trump is not just a matter of holding the president accountable for his confessed plot to extort Ukraine at a time when Russia is engaged in both an invasion of that country and a cyber-invasion of the United States. This impeachment is also a mandatory warning to myriad potential Trump copycats that serving as a carrier of the political disease known as Trumpism is absolutely not a path to more winning, but a political death wish.
This article first appeared in Salon.
Trump goes on wild Biden conspiracy tweetstorm as public impeachment hearings threaten to expose his presidency
President Donald Trump started firing off misleading tweets before sunrise to defend himself from the impeachment inquiry.
The president started tweeting a bit earlier than usual, at 6:25 a.m. EST, complaining about the public phase of the inquiry, which begins Wednesday with testimony from George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state, and Bill Taylor, a former ambassador and the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine.
Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, will testify Friday.
"Why is such a focus put on 2nd and 3rd hand witnesses, many of whom are Never Trumpers, or whose lawyers are Never Trumpers, when all you have to do is read the phone call (transcript) with the Ukrainian President and see first hand?" Trump tweeted.