The Star Wars franchise took a major hit when Carrie Fisher passed away in 2016, but she won't be left behind within the fictional universe. J.J. Abrams talked broadly about how Princess Leia is at the center of The Rise of Skywalker.

"The character of Leia is really, in a way, the heart of this story," Abrams told the audience during D23’s Walt Disney Studios panel on Saturday. "We realized we could not possibly tell the end of these nine films without Leia. We realized that we had footage from Episode VII, and we could use it in a new way."

Fisher's family has allowed Disney to use previous footage of the actress in The Rise of Skywalker so that the studio wouldn't have to resort to other measures.

"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," the actress' brother, Todd, said in a statement. "J.J. Abrams understood Carrie’s iconic role, and he has masterfully re-crafted this final entry to include this unused and very last footage of Carrie ever taken, without resorting to CGI or animatronics."

Fisher has been a part of the Star Wars franchise since 1977's Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. She died after suffering a medical emergency aboard a flight, as The Last Jedi was in post-production.

D23 also revealed a new poster for The Rise of Skywalker. See it below.

The Rise of Skywalker, the finale of the sequel trilogy, is in theaters Dec. 20.