Mark Hamill doesn't think another actress will play General Leia in Star Wars: Episode IX simply because the late Carrie Fisher is "irreplaceable." Star Wars fans sadly had to say goodbye to Fisher as Leia in her last big screen performance in December as she reprised the role one final time for The Last Jedi. The release of the film came just under a year after her untimely death on December 27, 2016, at age 60, but since she completed work on writer-director Rian Johnson's film, no alterations were made to the story in relation to her character.
While Disney and Lucasfilm didn't take long to quash the idea of bringing back Fisher in digital form in Episode IX, rumblings began to pop up on the internet last week of Oscar winner Meryl Streep taking her late friend's place as Leia. As it turned out, there were no quoted sources of the rumored recasting, and in all likelihood an online petition urging support for Streep to replace Fisher morphed into the recasting story.
And while the idea of recasting Fisher with Streep or any other qualified actress, for that matter, seems to have been put to rest, the question still remains of just how director J.J. Abrams – who worked with Fisher on The Force Awakens – will handle the narrative as it relates to her character in Episode IX. Now, with The Last Jedi's recent debut on home video and Hamill making the rounds to promote the film, the iconic Luke Skywalker actor was asked by Collider whether he thought the role of Leia could even be recast, especially since it's been bandied about that Leia was set to play a major role of Episode IX. He says:
"Well, first of all, I don't know what the specific plans were for that character, but just the way Han Solo was more prominent in Episode VII and Luke was in more prominent in VII, we assumed Leia would be more prominent in IX, especially since the dynamic of having Kylo Ren as her son. I think it would be tough recasting, only because she's so indelibly linked with that character. They've already ruled out the idea of, you know, computer generating a performance like they did with Peter Cushing (in Rogue One), so gee, that's got to be a really, not an insurmountable problem, but you know, I know that the script had been developed enough that when we lost her they had to go back to square one. But she's irreplaceable, you know, as far as I'm concerned."
With The Last Jedi all but in the rearview mirror and the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story just around the corner, the speculation will surely intensify in the coming months as to what exact direction Abrams will go in addressing Leia's absence on-screen once Episode IX begins filming.
Of course, since all things Star Wars are shrouded in secrecy throughout pre-production, principal photography and post-production, don't expect any definitive answers from Lucasfilm or Abrams about Leia's fate until the film is released in December 2019. No matter what plans they come up with, you can surely expect that the character's exit from the Star Wars universe will be handled gracefully with the respect that Leia – and Fisher – deserve.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019