Lucasfilm has a history of not responding to rumors in any way. But when a BBC report claimed they were in conversation with the Carrie Fisher estate and that it would lead to anything similar to Peter Cushing's likeness being used in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the company decided to break its rule and affirm to fans: Carrie Fisher's legacy is protected, and Leia will not be digitally recreated in Star Wars: Episode IX or any time in the forseeable future.
The full statement reads:
"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."
It's as definitive a statement as possible in this difficult situation. It is possible that the Fisher estate was in conversation with Lucasfilm this week as they tried to start deciding what the future of Leia would be (writing her out? recasting?), but they have come out to say with no uncertainty that digital recreation is off the table. A nineteen year-old Leia appeared in Rogue One thanks to digital recreation, but that was with the help and blessing of a living Carrie Fisher at the time.
In the case of Peter Cushing, he was digitally recreated in Rogue One to play a role from 40 years ago, and the actor himself has been dead for over two decades. Carrie Fisher's long and unique legacy and the recency of her passing made fans recoil when BBC's report hit the internet, and it makes sense for Lucasfilm, despite its history of keeping quiet, to break the silence in this case.
Carrie Fisher has been laid to rest, along with her mother Debbie Reynolds who died the day after her daughter. Her final performance will be in Star Wars: Episode VIII when it hits theaters December 15, 2017, as that finished shooting last summer.
MORE STAR WARS NEWS: Rogue One Vocal Cameos Revealed | 5 New Star Wars: Episode VIII Teases From Director Rian Johnson | Star Wars: Ahsoka Tano Actress Ashley Eckstein Teases a Future for the Character | Donald Glover Was Shocked to Be Cast in Han Solo Movie | Star Wars: Rumored Han Solo Standalone Filming Locations Revealed | Star Wars: Adam Driver Reminisces About His Time Spent With Carrie Fisher | Star Wars: History of Darth Maul vs Obi-Wan Kenobi | Rogue One: A Star Wars Story EP Comments on Ethics of Digital Resurrections of Tarkin and Leia