Mark Hamill says it’s “bittersweet” to begin production on Star Wars: Episode IX without his costar and dear friend Carrie Fisher, who died in 2016.
In a moving Twitter post Sunday, the man behind Luke Skywalker paid tribute to Fisher and addressed the recent announcement that she will appear in Episode IX as Leia Organa, via unused footage shot during the making of The Force Awakens. (Hamill will also appear in the film, despite Luke seemingly meeting his end in The Last Jedi.)
“It’s bittersweet facing my final chapter without her,” Hamill wrote of Fisher. “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. #CarrieOnForever.”
He also shared photos of the two of them together on set during The Last Jedi and during the making of the original trilogy, as well as the dedication from Last Jedi that paid homage to Fisher, “our princess.”
Lucasfilm announced last week that Episode IX will begin filming at London’s Pinewood Studios on Wednesday, under the direction of The Force Awakens filmmaker J.J. Abrams.
“We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” Abrams said in a statement. “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.”
On Saturday, Hamill also gave a Twitter shout-out to another costar from the original Star Wars trilogy: Billy Dee Williams, who first played Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back and will return for Episode IX. (Donald Glover recently re-imagined Lando as a younger man in Solo: A Star Wars Story). Hamill called Williams’ homecoming “long overdue,” while referencing some of his own lines from the Star Wars films. He wrote, “No one’s ever really gone,” and added the hashtag “#SeeYouAroundKids,” in reference to his parting words to Kylo Ren at the end of The Last Jedi.
Star Wars: Episode IX is slated to arrive in theaters in December 2019.