[UPDATE: Kathleen Kennedy has since said, “Sadly, Carrie will not be in nine, but we will see a lot of Carrie in eight.”]
With Carrie Fisher’s loss still fresh in the minds and hearts of many, Leia’s future on the big screen remains up in the air. Following her death, Star Wars IX director Colin Trevorrow met with Lucasfilm’s story group to discuss how they could proceed with the story they originally set out to tell. Talk of bringing Leia back via CGI has been shot down by the higher ups at Disney, which made it more confusing when Fisher’s brother said Lucasfilm has the family blessing to use recent footage of Fisher in Episode IX.
Well, that may not be the case after all. The statements by Todd Fisher came on the heels of Trevorrow stating there’s a finished Star Wars IX script draft, which appeared to make the former claims more credible. However, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has now assured everyone that no final decisions have yet been made, regarding Leia in Episode IX.
Yahoo asked Kennedy about Todd’s comments following the panel for The Last Jedi at Star Wars Celebration and she admitted her surprise, upon hearing about Todd Fisher’s statement. She reiterated the large role Leia was set to have in Episode IX and indicated that while the project has since been reworked, things remain up in the air concerning Leia:
I have no idea why he said that. We have not read a script yet. Obviously, when Carrie passed away in December that was a huge blow for all of us, and it caused us to sit with Colin to really think where we were headed with Episode IX. Carrie was a significant part in that story — that was something she very much wanted and something we very much wanted. But given the circumstances, we would not carry on with that.
Kennedy’s shocked response to the comments from Carrie Fisher’s brother could signal that Lucasfilm and the Fisher estate haven’t officially talked about what comes next for the Leia character in the Star Wars films. The Fishers could very well have decided internally that if Lucasfilm asks to use recent footage of Carrie that they would allow it, but Lucasfilm may not have requested that yet, or even need it for Episode IX.
The difficulty here is finding the best way to send-off Leia without making it feel too abrupt, considering her large role in The Last Jedi as well. Rian Johnson has already made it clear that Leia’s role in The Last Jedi remains unchanged following Fisher’s passing, so any alterations to Leia’s story have to come in Episode IX. While there are rumors that Episode IX will begin filming this summer, other reports point to production getting underway at the beginning of 2018. Either way, the issue of Leia’s role in Episode IX should be one of the first resolved for the project, before the cameras start rolling.