‘Star Wars’ fans are still reeling from the untimely passing of Carrie Fisher in December. That’s to be expected, of course. Even in the best of circumstances, a loss of this magnitude is not the sort of thing a community just gets over. And in this case, matters are complicated even further by the fact that Fisher passed in the midst of production on a cycle of ‘Star Wars’ films that heavily featured her character.
While Fisher had completed work on this year’s ‘The Last Jedi’ (in which General Leia is said to play a much greater role than in ‘The Force Awakens’), the fact that she was intended to have played an even greater role in 2019’s ‘Episode IX’ means that this unexpected loss cannot help but raise questions about the future of her character and the implications that has for ‘Episode IX’.
Based on the few public statements Lucasfilm has made on the matter, it’s clear that the production team is as uncertain about all of this as the fans are. Among the possibilities that have been discussed is that of adding material to ‘The Last Jedi’ in order to, for example, begin the process of writing the character out. That, however, is apparently not in the cards, according to Disney CEO Bob Iger, who made the following statement in a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter:
“When we bought Lucasfilm, we were going to make three films – ‘Episode VII’, ‘VIII’, and ‘IX’. 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.”
Iger’s statement essentially confirms that ‘The Last Jedi’ will be largely unchanged, at least as far as Leia herself is concerned. Therefore, whatever changes Lucasfilm makes to their initial plans in response to Fisher’s passing likely won’t come into play until ‘Episode IX’ in 2019.
As for what this means for the future? Your guess is as good as ours. While it’s nice to know that the character won’t be recreated in digital form a la ‘Rogue One’, that still leaves any number of options on the table, everything from recasting the role to writing her out altogether. Each of those has its own pros and cons, and under the circumstances, it’s unlikely that there even is an “ideal” answer. Suffice it to say, I don’t envy Colin Trevorrow and the rest of the ‘Episode IX’ team.
Written and directed by Rian Johnson, ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ will arrive in theaters on December 15, 2017. The film will continue the story that began in ‘The Force Awakens’ and features returning stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, and John Boyega alongside newcomers Laura Dern and Benicio de Toro.
Be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com for more news on ‘The Last Jedi’ and other upcoming ‘Star Wars’ films as it becomes available!