Kathleen Kennedy Explains Why Leia's Story Was Important to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

After more than forty years and ten movies, the Star Wars franchise will finally reach a conclusion in the ongoing Skywalker Saga with Episode IX premiering in December. And the man who helped launch the sequel trilogy will return to wrap it all up, as J.J. Abrams is currently hard at work on finishing Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. But after the tragic death of Carrie Fisher, many fans had questions about how the series could progress without the involvement of General Leia Organa, one of the key characters since the first move premiered in 1977.

Abrams sat down with Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy for an interview with Entertainment Weekly at D23 Expo, where a brand new look at Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was released. During the interview, they explained how vital Fisher is to the movie and why they decided to include Leia in the film, despite her passing.

"I think there was a huge sense of responsibility," Kennedy explained. "We spent a lot of time talking about what do we want to feel. Well, I would say first of all, Leia. That was a really, really complicated conversation. But we knew that she was such an important character."

"We just don't want to say that she wasn't around, that she had gone somewhere, to say that she passed away in between," said Abrams. "It just felt like there was no way to end this story. She's such an integral part of it."

Kennedy added, "Finding the end to this, in an emotional way, I think was paramount."

The two went on to explain that they recognize expectations are riding high on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker as a satisfying conclusion to a series of films that have inspired a rabid fanbase.

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"It's not just the end of three movies, the end of nine movies, three trilogies. So the story needed to end emotionally, it needed to end with scale but with intimacy," Abrams said. "It was a bit of a juggling-on-a-tightrope act, but it was really important to us that we tell a story that makes people feel. And where there's a sense if you're a kid watching all nine movies years from now, you see this beginning, middle, and end, and you feel like it was all coming to this."

We'll get to see how it all comes together when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker premieres in theaters on December 20th.