Earlier this week LucasFilm confirmed the main cast for “Star Wars: Episode IX” as well as announced that the final installment would include previously filmed footage of the late Carrie Fisher. A few days after the announcement, Mark Hamill released a statement on returning to the franchise, calling it “bittersweet” in a Twitter post to his followers.

On Twitter earlier today Hamill wrote, “It’s bittersweet facing my final chapter without her-She is simply irreplaceable. I’m finding solace in the fact that she won’t BE replaced & would love the worldwide outpouring of affection from those who loved her when they heard the news.”

LucasFilm and the cast and crew will be returning to London’s Pinewood Studios to start shooting the next film, which is expected to be the final chapter in the Skywalker legacy. Filming is scheduled to begin on August 1st and many fan-favorites are expected to return to the story. The returning characters that have been announced include Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd. They will be joined by Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant in the new film. LucasFilm also confirmed that Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams, who will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian, will also return for this new installment

Also returning to the cast is J.J. Abrams, the very director that launched the new trilogy with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. Abrams co-wrote the screenplay to this film with Chris Terrio. It was also announced that John Williams will return for Episode IX as the film’s composer. Williams has scored each Star Wars chapter since the 1977 hit “Star Wars: A New Hope” hit theaters.

In the casting announcement earlier this week Abrams said, “The role of Leia Organa will once again be played by Carrie Fisher, using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” says Abrams. “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.””

Before Fisher’s death, Leia Organa’s story was a major plot-point in the upcoming movie. Throughout the new trilogy the story had been building towards a showdown between Kylo Ren and his mother, and it was questionable if he would kill his mother on his decent towards the Dark Side, or if she would ultimately save him. We will just have to wait until next winter to get answers to these questions.

The next Star Wars chapter will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Michelle Rejwan, and executive produced by Callum Greene and Jason McGatlin. The crew includes Dan Mindel (Director of Photography), Rick Carter and Kevin Jenkins (Co-Production Designers), Michael Kaplan (Costume Designer), Neal Scanlan (Creature and Droid FX), Maryann Brandon and Stefan Grube (Editors), Roger Guyett (VFX Supervisor), Tommy Gormley (1st AD), and Victoria Mahoney (2nd Unit Director).

“Star War Episode IX” will release in December 2019.