Work is finally beginning on the last chapter of the Skywalker Saga, and Lucasfilm is starting to begin work on Star Wars: Episode IX. But after the unfortunate passing of Carrie Fisher, fans have wondered about the status of General Leia Organa in the new movie.
Lucasfilm surprised fans when they revealed Leia would have a role in the new film, seemingly reversing their position after she died when they said they would not include her in honor of her memory. Now her brother Todd Fisher issued a statement, giving J.J. Abrams and company his stamp of approval in their attempts to give his sister's character a fitting conclusion.
"As we, her family, as well as her extended family of fans around the world so believe, Carrie's 'Princess Leia is forever entrenched in the franchise and her indelible presence is fundamental to the film," Fisher's statement said. "J.J. Abrams understood Carrie's iconic role, and he has masterfully re-crafted this final entry to include this unused and very last footage of Carrie ever taken, without resorting to CGI or animatronics. Our family and her fans will look forward with great anticipation for this one! Her force will forever be with us!"
There were many questions surrounding Leia's presence in Episode IX, given that she passed away right after filming on Star Wars: The Last Jedi concluded. Writer and director Rian Johnson did not alter his film, instead sticking to his creative choices as they gave Carrie Fisher's character a fitting arc in the film, rather than trying to make his story conform to the unfortunate real-life circumstances.
And given Leia's cameo in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, in which they used another actor and used CGI on her appearance in order to make her look like Carrie Fisher as she did in Star Wars: A New Hope, there were questions regarding if Lucasfilm would go a similar route. Rogue One was released a week before Fisher died and did not have to deal with the ethical dilemmas that the new film is facing.
After Fisher's death, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy made it clear that the company would not be using technology to give Leia a role in Star Wars: Episode IX.
"Sadly, Carrie will not be in IX," Kennedy told ABC News in 2017. "But we will see a lot of Carrie in [The Last Jedi]."
The company made it clear that they're merely taking unused footage that Fisher shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and repurposing it for the new film.2comments
"We desperately loved Carrie Fisher," Abrams said in the casting announcement. "Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us. We were never going to recast or use a CG character. With the support and blessing from her daughter, Billie [Lourd], we have found a way to honor Carrie's legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII."
Star Wars: Episode IX premieres in theaters in December 2019.