Recently, an internet petition campaigning for Meryl Streep to take over the role of General Leia Organa in Star Wars: Episode IX gained traction, but it is nothing more than a pipe dream and shouldn't be taken very seriously. The late great Carrie Fisher portrayed Leia over five films in the franchise, but her tragic passing in December 2016 raised some questions about Leia's future in the saga. Though Fisher had completed all of her scenes for The Last Jedi, she was supposed to be even more of a factor in Star Wars 9 - just like Force Awakens was Han's movie and Last Jedi was Luke's.
How J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio resolve Leia's story in the trilogy's conclusion is something several fans are interested in learning, and there are those who aren't ready to bid farewell to the Princess just yet. Leia is the only member of the original big three left alive by Episode VIII's end, so the filmmakers clearly had more plans for her moving forward. But by all accounts, Episode IX has been significantly retooled in the wake of real-life events.
Related: How Star Wars 9 Can End Leia's Story
For starters, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy admitted at Star Wars Celebration 2017 that the studio "started over" on the ninth episode after Fisher's death. This is pretty much all the proof one needs to know that recasting isn't on the table. There wouldn't have been any need to wipe the slate clean if Leia was still going to be a prominent figure in Star Wars 9. Lucasfilm also (thankfully) came out to debunk rumors stipulating Fisher's likeness would be digitally recreated a la Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One. Considering Episode IX has been through no less than four iterations with Abrams & Terrio's version, it seems as if finding a graceful and respectful manner to conclude Leia's arc (without the actress who's synonymous with the part) has been a huge sticking point. That's something everyone involved wants to do the right way.
"I think I am Princess Leia; Princess Leia is me. It's like a Möbius strip tease"- Carrie Fisher
The least controversial route for Abrams to go is writing Leia out of Star Wars 9 completely. Using CGI would just make viewers extremely uncomfortable and there isn't an actress working today who would make a suitable Leia in the sequel. Regardless of how talented Streep or any other fan-casting options are, what Fisher brought to the role cannot be replicated—she is, as Mark Hamill claims, "irreplaceable". Not only that, it would be a gargantuan task for Lucasfilm to sell moviegoers on the "new Leia" when Fisher's death is still fresh on everyone's minds. It's one thing to recast Han Solo for a standalone prequel. This is a completely different situation that has more in common with Heath Ledger and the Dark Knight trilogy than anything. Abrams probably won't go to the extremes Christopher Nolan went to (the Joker wasn't even mentioned in Dark Knight Rises), but out of respect to Fisher, he'll tell a story that doesn't require the character to physically be there. Star Trek Beyond's treatment of Leonard Nimoy's passing reads as an ideal template to follow, tastefully integrating the actor's death into the narrative.
This isn't to say an actress of Streep's caliber would be an unwelcome addition to the Star Wars galaxy. On the contrary, Kennedy and Abrams would be thrilled to collaborate with the Oscar winner if they had the chance. However, it won't (and shouldn't) be for the role of Leia. It's very easy for the creative team to come up with a new character to serve as a Resistance leader alongside Poe Dameron, one that's free from the baggage that would come with stepping in for Fisher. It's unfortunate that we'll never get to see the proper conclusion to Leia's story, but hopefully Lucasfilm finds a way to end the Skywalker saga on the highest of notes.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019