The last trailer for the film, which is the final instalment in the Skywalker saga, was released during halftime of Monday Night Football in the US, on what would have been Fisher’s 63rd birthday.
Fisher died in December 2016 after going into cardiac arrest on a flight from London to Los Angeles.
While it was initially believed that 2017’s The Last Jedi would mark Fisher’s final appearance as Princess-turned-General Leia, director JJ Abrams has said he realised that footage shot during The Force Awakens could be used in The Rise of Skywalker.
He told Variety back in August: “The character of Leia is really, in a way, the heart of this story. We realised we could not possibly tell the end of these nine films without Leia. We realised that we had footage from Episode VII and we could use it in a new way.”
It was announced last year that Fisher’s family had approved previous footage of her being used for The Rise of Skywalker.
Her brother Todd said in a statement at the time: “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.
“JJ Abrams understood Carrie’s iconic role, and he has masterfully recrafted this final entry to include this unused and very last footage of Carrie ever taken, without resorting to CGI or animatronics.”
Fans have already noticed Fisher's top billing on the poster and seem touched by the move:
In the new trailer, Leia is seen hugging resistance fighter Rey (Daisy Ridley), before she is heard saying ”Always”, to complete Mark Hamill‘s immortal words as Luke Skywalker: “The Force will be with you.” Hamill and Fisher received top billing for The Last Jedi.
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Also featured in the trailer are Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and BB-8. Lupita Nyong’o makes a return as Maz Kanata, as do Domhall Gleeson as General Hux, Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico, and Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca.
Among the newcomers are Richard E Grant, Naomi Ackie, Lost star Dominic Monaghan, and Keri Russell, who is believed to have taken on a “crucial” role associated with Luke Skywalker (Hamill). Abrams also confirmed that Ian McDiarmid will return as the villain Palpatine.
The film will focus on the regrouping of the Resistance after heavy losses during their fight against the First Order and Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi.
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker is released in cinemas on 16 December 2019.
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