Kennedy revealed Leia's absence from the film while discussing actress Carrie Fisher's untimely death at the end of last year with Good Morning America.
"We're so happy we were able to complete shooting [on Star Wars: The Last Jedi] over the summer, before Carrie passed away," She explained. "So by the time we were well underway on Episode IX in our thoughts - we had not written a script yet - we've regrouped, we started over again in January. So sadly, Carrie wll not be in IX."
“It was such a moving tribute yesterday, I don’t know if I can add to that," Johnson said, referring to a video tribute to Fisher that played during Star Wars Celebration (via ScreenRant) I love her so much, I just adore her. I connected with her first and foremost as a writer. She’s a brilliant writer, with an incredible mind. I’d go to her house and we’d sit on her bed for hours, going through the script. And then at the end of six hours, there would be this four word line of dialogue that would be the distillation of all that, that was brilliant.”
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is due out in theaters December 15, while Star Wars: Episode IX has been scheduled for May 24, 2019.