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General Leia had to stay

Star Wars director J.J. Abrams refused to replace or edit late actress Carrie Fisher out of the latest film in the sci-fi series.

He confirmed she would be part of the upcoming blockbuster, now titled Star Wars: Episode IX-The Rise of Skywalker, at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago on Friday and revealed he couldn't imagine finishing the latest trilogy without her character, General Leia Organa.

Fisher died after suffering a massive heart attack in December 2016, but the character she created lived on in 2017's Star Wars: Episode VIII-The Last Jedi, and she also appeared in a teaser trailer for The Rise of Skywalker, which debuted on Friday.

"You don't recast that part, and you don't suddenly have her disappear," Abrams told Star Wars fans, explaining he turned to unused footage of Fisher as Princess Leia from 2015's Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens to help him complete the character's story.

The moviemaker added, "Looking at those scenes and starting to understand that there was actually a way to use those scenes and continue her story so that it would be her ... The idea of having a CG (computer-generated) character was off the table ... We said, 'What if we could write scenes about her, so it's her performance?'"

Abrams then explained it was difficult not having Fisher around as he completed the third Star Wars trilogy. "Every day it hits me that she's not here," he told fans. "It's so surreal because we are working with her still, if that makes sense. She's in scenes. She's alive in scenes."

The latest Star Wars film will hit cinemas on Dec. 20.

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