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Of Carrie Fisher’s Return in the New ‘Star Wars’ Film, Director J.J. Abrams Says, ‘She Is the Heart of This Story’

The death of Carrie Fisher over two years ago was a shock to a great many people, not the least of whom were Star Wars fans. She had a prominent role in the last film, The Last Jedi, as Leia Organa, and was supposed to play a major part in Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, which has been shot by The Force AwakensJ.J. Abrams. The big question was how she would be written out of the series.

There had been rumors — quickly debunked by Lucasfilm — that a digital version of Carrie would be created to wrap up her character arc. After all, one had previously been created for the conclusion of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which was designed as a prequel to 1977’s Episode IV: A New Hope and which concluded with the moments leading up to that film, including Carrie’s Princess Leia recording a message into the R2D2 droid. The next rumor was that outtakes from both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi featuring the actress would be featured, and while the latter is actually true, it seems that her presence is far more significant than that.

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“The character of Leia is really, in a way, the heart of this story,” J.J. explains when taking the stage at Disney’s D23 expo. “When we were talking about this story, we thought we could not possibly tell the end of these nine films without Leia. And we realized we had footage from Episode 7 — many of you know this — that we realized could be used in a new way so that Carrie as Leia gets to be in the film.”

Please scroll down for more from J.J. Abrams on Carrie Fisher

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