As Star Wars fans await the release of the sci-fi saga’s eagerly anticipated new instalment The Last Jedi later this month, the film’s release is tinged with sadness as it marks the final onscreen role of the late Carrie Fisher.

Fisher, who played Princess Leia Organa in the original trilogy before reprising her iconic role for 2015’s The Force Awakens, filmed scenes for the movie prior to her sudden death from a cardiac arrest in December last year at the age of 60.

Now, Fisher’s former co-stars have been paying tribute to the late actress and LGBT advocate as her final film role hits screens.

Long-time friend and co-star Mark Hamill, who plays Star Wars’ lightsaber-wielding hero Luke Skywalker, told the Press Association: “[Carrie]’s wonderful in the movie. She was such an integral part of the Star Wars family, there’s no replacing her, we will always miss her but I do know she would want us to enjoy it, she would want us to be laughing.”

In a separate interview with Reuters, Hamill added: “She’s irreplaceable. It’s like every fan was dreaming of the day that The Beatles would reunite, and then we lost John. It’s just unbearably sad.”

The 66-year-old continued: “In a way it’s sort of – Star Wars is about great triumph, and great tragedy, and I can’t think of a greater tragedy than missing our Leia.”

Game of Thrones star d Gwendoline Christie, who plays Captain Phasma in The Last Jedi, said that Fisher would continue to inspire women around the world following her death.

“I watched TV and film obsessively from such a young age, but [she] stayed with me throughout my formative years,” she said (via Gamespot).

“She’s really interesting, she’s really smart, she’s really funny, she’s courageous, she’s bold, she doesn’t care what people think, and she isn’t prepared to be told what to do.

“And she doesn’t look the same as a sort of homogenized presentation of a woman that we had been used to seeing.”

The actress continued: “So what was really instrumental to me, as someone who didn’t feel like they fit in that homogenized view of what a woman was supposed to be, that there was inspiration there–that you could be an individual and celebrate yourself and be successful without giving yourself over, without necessarily making some sort of terrible, huge compromise.”

Meanwhile, Academy Award nominee, who plays LGBT character Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, alos paid tribute to Fisher’s lasting legacy.

“And that’s what moved me the most about the icon she gave us, but also what she gave us individually and personally, which is to carry who she was so directly, and to be without shame and to share her story and to expect nothing less from any of us,” Dern said.

“And the privilege of watching how [The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson] has so beautifully captured all of that, and her grace, in this amazing, beautiful, pure performance.”

Oscar Isaac, who plays Poe Dameron added: “I think there is a sense that she understands – this is the character in the film – and I think the mirroring to life is uncanny, that she’s not going to be around forever.”

“There’s a passing of the torch thats going to happen.”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits UK cinemas on 15 December. Check out the trailer below:

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