Interviews with the cast and crew of the upcoming eighth Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, have revealed that the late Carrie Fisher would have been “at the forefront” of the next and final film.

Kathleen Kennedy, the head of LucasFilm, said in a preview piece for Vanity Fair ahead of The Last Jedi’s release this December, said the original plan had been for Fisher's Princess Leia to have had a much more prominent role in the ninth and final episode of the saga.

“She was having a blast,” said Kennedy. “The minute she finished, she grabbed me and said, ‘I’d better be at the forefront of IX!’ Because Harrison was front and centre on VII, and Mark is front and centre on VIII. She thought IX would be her movie. And it would have been.”

Carrie FisherCarrie Fisher at the 2016 BAFTAs

Fisher died on 27th December last year, having been taken ill on a flight from London to Los Angeles and subsequently spending four days in critical condition in hospital.

More: LucasFilm is not planning to digitally re-create Carrie Fisher in any future ‘Star Wars’ movies

She will be starring posthumously in The Last Jedi, having completed filming for her role last summer, but LucasFilm has subsequently stated that they will not be using technological trickery to somehow ‘revive’ her for the purposes of Episode IX, which is due for release in May 2019.

Elsewhere in the Vanity Fair piece, Daisy Ridley, her young castmate from the most recent film The Force Awakens, told how Fisher was great at offering advice on-set, in particular to her.

“There were times through it all when I felt like I was… shrinking. And she told me never to shrink away from it – that it should be enjoyed.”

Similarly, John Boyega said much the same thing when he remembered what Fisher told him after the initial backlash when he appeared in the first trailer for The Force Awakens. “She said, ‘Ah, boohoo, who f*****’ cares? You just do you.’ Words like that give you strength. I bore witness in a million ways to her sharing her wisdom with Daisy too.”

More: Mark Hamill recalls how the first ‘Star Wars’ trailer was heckled