When Lucasfilm and Disney confirmed that Star Wars Episode 9 would not "do a Grand Moff Tarkin" and revive Carrie Fisher using advanced CGI and motion capture trickery, Star Wars fans might have breathed a sigh of relief — Tarkin did look pretty creepy in Rogue One, kind of like a character from a PS3 game on a slight lag — but it also raised the question of how the series would say goodbye to Princess Leia.
If there was no digital wizardry, would the beloved Princess (now General of the Resistance) be given a quiet, off-screen exit? Something about that would seem pretty underwhelming for such an iconic character in sci-fi and cinematic history, not to mention disrespectful to Fisher, whose sudden death still feels so raw.
As it turns out, Lucasfilm seems to have found the perfect solution. According to Carrie's brother Todd Fisher, both he and her daughter Billie Lourd have given Disney legal permission to use recently-shot footage of Fisher in Episode 9.
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Speaking to the New York Daily News, Todd Fisher confirmed that his sister would be part of the final instalment in the trilogy because "she's owned by the people":
"[Billie and I] were like, ‘How do you take her out of it?’ And the answer is you don't. She’s as much a part of it as anything and I think her presence now is even more powerful than it was, like Obi-Wan — when the saber cuts him down he becomes more powerful. I feel like that's what's happened with Carrie. I think the legacy should continue ... I think the people deserve to have her. She's owned by them."
Reading between the lines, it sounds like chopped footage of Leia from Star Wars: #TheLastJedi (in which her role is much bigger, suggesting also more deleted scenes etc.) could be used as the basis for adjusted scripts in Episode 9 which are filmed to look as if they were shot when Carrie was alive.
Although that limits how big a role she can play (compared with using VFX to recreate Leia), it also gives the character a much more natural, much less morbid farewell, and it means everything we see on the screen is exactly what Carrie intended us to see.
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If Episode 9 director Colin Trevorrow is successful in using existing footage of Fisher to create scenes which appear all-new, his movie could be groundbreaking in terms of dictating how the sudden deaths of actors are dealt with in future — which would be weirdly apt, making Carrie as much a trailblazer in death as in life. I have faith.
The first teaser trailer for The Last Jedi is expected to drop at Star Wars Celebration this weekend, so expect to learn more about the nature of Leia's role in this movie and the next very soon. Until then, check out Carrie in the trailer for her final project, the third season of the sitcom Catastrophe:
Do you have faith in Disney to give Carrie Fisher and Princess Leia a fitting farewell to Star Wars without the use of CGI?