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(Pocket-lint) - Lucasfilm has announced some major news about the next main Star Wars film: the late Carrie Fisher will reprise the role of Leia.

The Disney-owned company confirmed Star Wars: Episode IX will begin production on 1 August and Leia will appear in the film, thanks to old footage Fisher previously shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Lucasfilm brought back The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams, who explained in a statement how he will work Leia into the new film:

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

Lucasfilm also confirmed Mark Hamill is in the film, and that Billy Dee Williams will reprise the role of Lando Calrissian. There’s still no confirmation on whether Gwendoline Christie will reprise her role.

Star Wars: Episode IX was originally scheduled to release May 2019, but it was pushed back to 20 December 2019 after a change in directors. Abrams, the new director, is co-writing the film with Chris Terrio.

Writing by Maggie Tillman.