Audiences were overjoyed when Carrie Fisher reprised her breakout role as Princess Leia in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but her unexpected death in December cast doubt over the future of the character.
She had already wrapped her scenes on Episode VIII, now known as The Last Jedi, the first official teaser for which was released last week (April 14).
The final installment of the Star Wars ennealogy (yep, that’s the official word for a story of nine parts) was also expected to feature the Alderaan princess, as the whole Jedi saga that started way back in 1977 — or, if you prefer following narrative order, on Naboo in The Phantom Menace — finally comes to an end.
So far it is known only as Episode IX, and won’t be hitting theaters until May 2019, but that’s not to say development wasn’t already underway: scripts had been started, even while the earlier installment was filming last year.
Carrie’s untimely death, then, caused many to speculate as to whether she would appear in the final installment. Had scenes already been shot? Would they recreate Princess Leia using CGI, as they had with Peter Cushing in spin-off movie Rogue One?
Thankfully, in January, LucasFilm released a statement saying they will not be doing that, though they stopped short of saying whether Carrie would feature in the movie or not.
And then just last week, her brother Todd Fisher confirmed she would in fact star, saying he and her daughter Billie Lourd have given Lucasfilm the right to use recent footage of her for the Episode IX.
“Both of us were like, ‘Yes, how do you take her out of it?’ And the answer is you don’t,” Fisher told the New York Daily News at the opening night of TCM Film Festival in Los Angeles. “She’s as much a part of it as anything and I think her presence now is even more powerful than it was, like Obi Wan—when the saber cuts him down he becomes more powerful. I feel like that’s what’s happened with Carrie. I think the legacy should continue.”
According to Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, however, he was likely “confused”:
“We finished everything in Episode VIII, and Carrie is absolutely phenomenal in the movie, and we’re so happy that we were able to complete shooting in the summer,” she told Good Morning America on Friday (April 14).
“Unfortunately, Carrie passed away, and so by the time we were well underway with Episode IX in our thoughts, we had not written the script yet. But we’ve regrouped. We started over again in January. So, sadly, Carrie will not be in IX. But we’ll see a lot of her in Episode VIII, which is great.”
— Good Morning America (@GMA) April 14, 2017
That’s both pleasing and sad. Sad, of course, that we won’t see Carrie-as-Leia one final time, but pleasing that her performance and legacy is being treated with the respect it deserves.
And, if you haven’t seen it already, here’s the official Star Wars tribute to Carrie, unveiled Friday during a 40th anniversary panel at the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando:
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