Rounding off what was a pretty dreadful year, Star Wars icon and beloved Hollywood personality Carrie Fisher passed away on December 27th, 2016. Amidst the mourning and accolades, a fierce debate raged about what this would mean for the remainder of the #StarWars sequel trilogy, and whether Fisher should be recreated via CGI, allowing her to portray Leia after her death.
To put a stop to the rumors, Lucasfilm stepped in and officially stated that they would not use CGI to continue Leia's story into Star Wars Episode IX. That still left #TheLastJedi in doubt, as filming had not yet wrapped on the 2017 movie, and we all wondered how Fisher's death would affect General Leia Organa's role in #StarWars8.
Now, #Disney CEO Bob Iger has cleared up the rumors and hearsay, explaining that Fisher's passing won't affect Leia's role in The Last Jedi.
"We had to deal with tragedy at the end of 2016. Carrie appears throughout VIII. We are not changing VIII to deal with her passing. Her performance remains as it is in VIII. In 'Rogue One', we had some digital character. We are not doing that with Carrie."
Reiterating that Fisher would not be digitally recreated via CGI, Iger also confirmed rumors that Leia's role in Star Wars Episode VIII is rather prominent, and assured fans that this remains unchanged.
But What About Episode IX?
After General Organa was revealed to be the leader of the Resistance in #TheForceAwakens, we're all excited to see how she deals with the increased threat of the First Order in the next installment — especially as many of her scenes were cut from Episode VII.
There's no doubt that, as the conflict between the Resistance and the First Order heats up in Episode VIII, Leia's leadership expertise will be desperately needed. But this is only one chapter in her story, and the natural progression of the sequel trilogy's plot seems to be building towards a final battle in Episode IX — one which Leia was to play a pivotal role.
The news broke last year that Leia's role in #StarWars9 was planned to be a large part of the story — perhaps even bigger than her role in The Last Jedi — though much of this was based on rumors. Specifically, The Hollywood Reporter revealed two key scenes that were not yet filmed when Fisher passed away: A reunion with her son Kylo Ren, and another reunion scene with Luke Skywalker.
The fact that we'll never get to see these scenes is very sad, as so much of Leia's life has been colored with loss: First she lost her parents and her home planet along with them, then her son defected to the dark side prompting her brother to go into hiding. Finally, The Force Awakens saw Leia lose the love of her life, Han Solo, as he tried and failed to bring their son home.
If the reunion scenes were planned for Episode IX, it's likely that Luke Skywalker won't return to the Resistance in The Last Jedi, although these events may be reshuffled somehow — and The Hollywood Reporter's article was based on information from inside sources and therefore cannot be considered official.
Yet despite the prominence of her role in Episode VIII, it seems that Fisher's death will affect her role in the final film of the sequel trilogy, if Disney and Lucasfilm stay true to their promise not to use CGI to include the deceased actress. We're left wondering how the sequel trilogy will incorporate the actress' death, and whether this means Leia too will die. This is undeniably tragic, but at least we can rest assured that Leia's role in The Last Jedi remains unchanged, whatever the future will bring.
Tell us in the comments: Do you think the decision not to digitally recreate Leia was the right one?