The Star Wars community is still reeling from the death of Carrie Fisher, who reprises her role as General Leia Organa in this year's Star Wars: Episode VIII. Shortly after Fisher's passing, it was revealed that the actress had filmed all of her scenes for the sequel, and Leia was set to have a larger role. Ever since Fisher died, one of the largest questions on fans' minds is how Disney and Lucasfilm plan to resolve Leia's arc in the sequel trilogy, and Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow scheduled a meeting with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy to discuss that matter.
There are numerous options available on the table to the studios, including one that could make viewers feel very uncomfortable. The spinoff Rogue One: A Star Wars Story made headlines last month for its controversial use of CGI to bring the late Peter Cushing back to "play" Grand Moff Tarkin. With that technology available, some theorized that Lucasfilm would incorporate that for Episode IX so Leia could appear in that film, and it appears this is one method they are strongly considering.
Per BBC Newsnight (hat tip Star Wars News Net), Disney is supposedly having conversations with Fisher's estate about future Leia appearances in the franchise. Their video is only available to U.K. citizens, but SWNN was able to pull a relevant quote:
“And if what might be regarded as unseemly haste, Disney is negotiating with the actor’s estate over her continued appearance in the franchise. If Disney gets the go-ahead, Carrie Fisher will join Peter Cushing…”
Given that Fisher's death was just over two weeks ago (and is still fresh on everyone's minds), some may justifiably feel put off by the studio's rush to have these meetings. Still, it is important to keep in mind that these are just negotiations and nothing final. Before Disney moves forward with a CGI Leia for Episode IX, they need to get approval, and if that does not happen, they'll have to find a different solution. It's also unknown in what capacity this would be used. The report makes no mention of whether or not it would be a sizable role a la Tarkin in Rogue One or a brief cameo via hologram. Until more details are revealed, fans should not rush to judgment and wait to see what Lucasfilm has in mind.
It honestly is not surprising these conversations are taking place. As the story group plotted the course for the sequel trilogy, Leia allegedly was to have an even larger part in Star Wars 9, including a scene in which she would confront her son, Kylo Ren. The filmmakers obviously had big plans for the character, and Episode VIII was probably shot with all this in mind. Granted, alterations to Star Wars 8 can be made during reshoots and post-production, but if Leia was meant to be a pertinent figure in these next two films, it could come across as odd if she was completely absent for the conclusion. At this point, it's very difficult to say what Lucasfilm should or shouldn't do because story beats for the new movies are being kept under wraps. Only the creative team knows what Leia's future is, and they should be trusted to handle this unfortunate situation in the best way possible.
Tarkin in Rogue One raised serious ethical questions, but for the most part, the effect was successful and impressed viewers. ILM's John Knoll repeatedly said that was done with the best intentions, and that would obviously be the case should Leia be brought back for Episode IX. It all depends on the narrative Lucasfilm has in mind and what serves that story best. Even if the General won't have as big a role in Star Wars 9 as originally intended, it would still be nice to see her in the finale, and it looks like that will be the case.
Source: Star Wars News Net
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018