In less than two months, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker closes out the Skywalker saga, and despite Carrie Fisher's untimely death in late 2016, Leia Organa will factor in the upcoming film's story.
Fisher returned to her Star Wars role as the feisty Leia in 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens. With the ongoing war between the First Order and the Resistance, the former Princess of Alderaan fully takes on the responsibility of leading the Freedom Fighters as General Organa. The fight against Supreme Leader Snoke and his army has been more personal to Leia, however with her and Han Solo's son, Ben (Adam Driver) lured by the mysterious evil entity to the Dark side of the Force - becoming his right-hand man. She reprised the role again in Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi and was supposed to return in The Rise of Skywalker.
Sadly, with her tragic death before filming began for Episode IX, Lucasfilm had to be creative in not only bringing her character back but also providing a satisfying end to the beloved character. Here's what we know so far about the role Leia will play in the final chapter of the Skywalker story.
Star Wars 9 Was Supposed To Be Leia's Movie
Fans were understandably excited when they found out tha,t on top of Disney rolling out new episodic Star Wars movies, the franchise's legacy characters - Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa - were set to return with Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher reprising their respective roles. The original plan was to devote a film in the threequel for each of these key players. Director J.J. Abrams opened the sequel trilogy with The Force Awakens, which focused on Han with the revelation that he and Leia ultimately split up after Ben's descent the Dark side. After Episode VII, The Last Jedi put the spotlight on Luke, his exile due to his Jedi Academy-gone-wrong and eventual return. The Rise of Skywalker was supposed to be Leia's movie.
It's unclear how her fate will pan out in the film, but considering the revelation that she's also powerful a Force user like her father and brother, it's safe to say that Episode IX would have continued exploring this. Fisher's brother's recent comments about Leia supposedly being the real last Jedi backs up these assumptions. On top of that, she would have also been at the forefront of the impending collision between the Resistance and First Order.
Given the circumstances, Leia can't have the same prominence in The Rise of Skywalker the same way Han and Luke had in The Force of Awakens and The Last Jedi. Despite what's going to be a limited physical presence in the film, that doesn't mean that she won't be an integral part of Episode IX's narrative. Her legacy could very well be the motivation driving some of the new crop of Freedom Fighters like Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), and perhaps even the whole Resistance. Meanwhile, depending on how the film approaches it, her supposed death can also have a lasting impact on her son, Kylo Ren. In any case, the actress has top-billing in the film, a good indication that she's extremely important in its story.
Star Wars 9 Is Using Re-purposed Footage Of Carrie Fisher
Prior to her death, Carrie Fisher had finished working on The Last Jedi but principal photography for The Rise of Skywalker hadn't yet begun. With an intended sizable role in Abrams' movie, Abrams and Lucasfilm had to decide how to integrate Leia in the movie. The option to digitally re-created the character popped up with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story setting a precedent via the inclusion of Peter Cushing's Grand Off Tarkin, and the prequel film also used a similar technique in recreating young Leia. In addition to that, there were also rumblings of a recast.
Ultimately, Lucasfilm decided against both options and opted to repurpose unused footage of Fisher as Leia in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. As recently revealed, Abrams only had eight minutes of film to work with, but it seems like the the creatives behind the film were able to maximize them in the service of the character's closing story in The Rise of Skywalker. It's uncertain how long Leia's screen time will be in the film, but considering that trailers have only featured her in two scenes, there may be several more bits and pieces that they're saving for the movie itself.
Leia Is Still Leading The Resistance In Star Wars 9
The Last Jedi ended with the Resistance almost wiped out - with only a small number of people crammed in the Millennium Falcon, barely escaping the First Order in Crait. Rey aired her concerns thereafter, especially with Kylo Ren's new position, not to mention his burning desire to destroy them. Leia, however, calmly assured her that they're going to be fine. The trailers for The Rise of Skywalker hinted that the Resistance was indeed able to rebuild, making them better equipped for their next face-off with Supreme Leader Kylo Ren and his troops.
The Rise of Skywalker picks up a year after the events of The Last Jedi, and depending on how Abrams approached writing off Leia, the movie will more likely start with her still leading the Resistance. In the two scenes fans have seen with her thus far, both seem to be set in the new jungle planet Ajan Kloss. Based on what we've seen from Episode IX's marketing, this new location appears to be where the Resistance has established their new base. And during this year's Star Wars Celebration Chicago, a still image of the main group alongside Chewabacca on what could be the same forest planet was revealed.
Leia Is Helping Rey In Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
The Rise of Skywalker's marketing has been extremely measured thus far, giving fans very little about what to expect in the movies narrative, including the extent of Leia's involvement. Nonetheless, it's clear that she'll play an important role in Rey's continuous training as a Jedi. It's already confirmed that Luke's presence will be felt in the movie as he provides Rey guidance - as evidenced by his narration in the trailers. Like his predecessors, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, Luke can return in the form of a Force Ghost, allowing him to shadow his last apprentice.
Despite the real life ramifications of Fisher's death, Leia is still alive in the Star Wars universe. She's the last remaining legacy character and Skywalker descendant (that the public knows of) other than Kylo Ren, who has been lured to the dark side. So, it makes sense given the premise of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, not to mention her ability to tap into the Force, that Leia will have a mentorship relationship with Rey. This idea is backed up by that shot in the marketing videos where they share an embrace (a visual reminiscent of their encounter in The Force Awakens). Another great indication of this is the parting line from the latest trailer where Luke begins the Star Wars' iconic line: "May the Force be with you," while Leia finishes it off with "always," hinting that the Skywalker twins will be significant in preparing Rey for her upcoming task-at-hand - facing not only Kylo Ren, but also Emperor Palpatine.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019