The death of Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher in December 2016 sent shockwaves through the fan community, and people continue to mourn the loss of an icon that meant so much to so many people. While Fisher’s passing is still fresh in everyone’s minds, moviegoers can’t help but think what the future has in store for her character, General Leia Organa. Fisher returned to the franchise for 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and will appear once again this year in Star Wars: Episode VIII. After Fisher’s death, it was reported that she had filmed all her scenes for writer/director Rian Johnson’s sequel, but it is currently unknown how Lucasfilm will handle Leia moving forward.
Star Wars: Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow scheduled a meeting with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy to discuss that matter, and earlier this week, it was reported that Disney was negotiating with Fisher’s estate in regard to future Leia appearances. This caused some to believe that the studio would use the controversial special effects techniques used for Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia in Rogue One for Star Wars 9. That was an uncomfortable prospect for many to consider, and now Lucasfilm has definitively stated that it will not happen.
Lucasfilm issued the following statement addressing the recent rumors, saying that there are “no plans” to digitally recreate Fisher:
We don’t normally respond to fan or press speculation, but there is a rumor circulating that we would like to address. We want to assure our fans that Lucasfilm has no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher’s performance as Princess or General Leia Organa.
Carrie Fisher was, is, and always will be a part of the Lucasfilm family. She was our princess, our general, and more importantly, our friend. We are still hurting from her loss. We cherish her memory and legacy as Princess Leia, and will always strive to honor everything she gave to Star Wars.
This will likely come as a huge relief to viewers, and it is great that the studio came out so quickly to release these comments. While they are still trying to figure out the best course of action, they have at the very least eliminated the most questionable option that was on the table. Even though Peter Cushing’s likeness was recreated in good taste for Rogue One, several people still took issue with the slippery slope that it presented, and seeing Fisher in 2019’s Episode IX could have been highly problematic. If the goal is to respect Fisher’s legacy, then it is probably for the best that Star Wars 8 will be her final performance.
It will still be interesting to see what the filmmakers decide to do moving forward, since rumors have suggested that Leia’s role was meant to expand in Episode IX (including a crucial emotional scene with Kylo Ren). Given that Episode VIII is still 11 months away, the story group does have time to retool plot points so that film can be the character’s sendoff. Time will tell, but fans can rest easy knowing that CGI will not be part of the solution.