Star Wars: How J.J. Abrams Ensured Carrie Fisher Would Appear in The Rise of Skywalker

Back in April, Star Wars fans finally got their first real look at the long-awaited Star Wars: Episode IX — which was revealed to be formally titled Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy presented fans with the film's official title and a teaser at the Star Wars Celebration in Chicago, as well as took the time to talk all things Star Wars in a panel with superfan Stephen Colbert.

During the panel, Colbert brought up the appearance of the late Carrie Fisher as our favorite princess turned war general, Leia Organa, in the upcoming film. Despite earlier reports that Fisher wouldn't appear in Rise of Skywalker after her untimely death, Disney announced on July 27 that it would be including Leia in the film using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In the released teaser, Fisher is briefly seen when Leia and a teary-eyed Rey (played by Daisy Ridley) share an embrace (which is notably similar to the one they share in The Force Awakens). In the newest trailer, released on Oct. 21, Fisher's iconic character can also be heard whispering a single word: "Always."

Mashable reported that when Colbert asked Abrams how the director approached "filling the void left by Carrie Fisher" at the panel in April, he responded that he couldn't.

"She was the best. She was glorious. She was amazing," he said. "It was impossible, there was no way. What are you gonna do? . . . The weird miracle of having had a number of scenes from The Force Awakens that had gone unused, looking at those scenes and starting to understand that there was actually a way to use those scenes to continue her story so it would be her."

Abrams also revealed that he never wanted to re-create Fisher with CGI, and instead, he decided to write new scenes from Rise of Skywalker around the Force Awakens footage to keep Carrie in the movie. "The craziest part is how not crazy it feels. She's there in these scenes," he added.

Considering this is the epic conclusion to the Skywalker saga, it's especially significant to have Leia appear in the film. We already know that Rise of Skywalker won't take place immediately after the events of The Last Jedi, so that leaves enough time for there to be exposition about what's happened to Leia and for the film to wrap up her storyline in a satisfying way. We can't wait to see what Rise of Skywalker has in store for us and our favorite general/princess when the film hits theaters on Dec. 21.