STAR WARS Braintrust to Meet About Leia’s Future
Carrie Fisher – best known for her iconic portrayal of Princess (and later, General) Leia Organa in the Star Wars franchise – tragically passed away at the age of 60 on December 27th, 2016. Fisher, who famously and fiercely tackled the role in the original Star Wars trilogy spanning from 1977 to 1983, returned to her most beloved character with 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The franchise revival saw General Leia Organa as leader of the Resistance and separated from husband Han Solo (Harrison Ford), with the couple’s son – Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), a Force sensitive who had trained under Leia’s brother, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) – serving as the film’s main antagonist, having been seduced to the Dark side by the villainous Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis).
While Leia’s screen time was minimal in The Force Awakens, reports surfacing after Fisher’s death revealed that Fisher had completed work on Star Wars: Episode VIII and was supposed to have an even larger role in Star Wars: Episode IX. With Fisher’s passing, Disney and Lucasfilm are faced with an unenviable situation: how to move forward in face of the loss of one of the saga’s most important and most recognizable figures. As mother to the central villain of the new trilogy – and sister to Luke Skywalker, who went into self-imposed exile sometime before the events of The Force Awakens – it was expected for Leia to play an even larger role moving forward, leaving the filmmakers scrambling to possibly rework episodes VIII and IX in addition to finding a proper and respectful send off for both Leia Organa and Carrie Fisher.
“At least two key scenes are planned” for Episode VIII and Episode IX, insiders tell THR, who report of a reunion between Force-sensitive siblings Luke and Leia, and a confrontation with Leia’s son Kylo Ren, who cut down his father in The Force Awakens. Leia reportedly “was to have been a bigger part of Episode IX than VIII,” with the ninth episode not reaching theaters until December 2019. Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII finished shooting over the summer, while Episode IX – to be directed by Jurassic World‘s Colin Trevorrow – will likely begin shooting in early 2018, with the status of its script currently unknown.
As “people are still deeply mourning” Fisher’s death at Lucasfilm, Trevorrow is scheduled to visit L.A. in the upcoming week to meet with Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy to discuss options concerning Leia’s involvement moving forward. The Hollywood Reporter article explores several options facing the filmmakers, including writing out Leia and having her scenes reshot – but seeing as Episode VIII will be Fisher’s final performance in the franchise, there’s little chance Disney and Lucasfilm leave Fisher and her iconic Leia Organa out of what will be her last major completed work on screen. The eighth installment will serve as an opportunity not only to honor and possibly send off Leia, but also Carrie Fisher.
Probably the most worthwhile option facing the filmmakers is the ever-developing technology of CGI. Lucasfilm most recently digitally resurrected Peter Cushing for Rogue One, the Star Wars standalone set just before A New Hope (in which Cushing’s Tarkin played a substantial role). In that, the filmmakers used a physical actor (Guy Henry) and superimposed a CGI recreation of Cushing’s face onto Henry’s body, quite successfully – even if eerily so – bringing Cushing’s Tarkin back to life. If required, the filmmakers could utilize such tools so that Leia could be included in Episode IX – an option dependent upon whether or not the creatives behind Episode VIII are able to adequately close out Leia’s story in the next episodic installment, out this December.
Carrie Fisher and mother Debbie Reynolds are the subjects of Bright Lights, an HBO documentary premiering January 7th. Star Wars: Episode VIII opens December 15th.