One of the biggest questions for Star Wars fans in advance of this December’s release of ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Episode IX)’ is just how much Princess Leia will be able to be featured in the film. Leia has been portrayed on-screen by Carrie Fisher since the franchise’s inception in 1977, and fans were devastated when Fisher passed away in 2016 shortly after completing her filming on ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Episode XIII),’ leaving many questions of how the character would – and could – be portrayed on-screen moving forward.
At the Disney-produced D23 Expo, the director of the film, JJ Abrams, spoke about that very topic, and made it quite clear what the audience can expect to see:
“…We can’t talk about the cast without talking about Carrie Fisher. And the character of Leia is really in a way the heart of this story. We could not tell the end of these nine films without Leia. And we realized that we had footage from ‘Episode 7’ [‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’] that we realized we could use in a new way. So Carrie, as Leia, gets to be in the [new] film.
“But the crazy part is we started to work on this movie and I wasn’t supposed to be directing this movie [Colin Trevorrow was originally hired to direct it]. Then we lost Carrie. And I was hired on this film and began working. And I remember this thing that I had read that I actually thought I was mistaken. I looked in her last book, The Princess Diarist, and she had written, ‘Special thanks to J.J. Abrams for putting up with me twice.’ Now I had never worked with her before ‘[The] Force Awakens’ and I wasn’t supposed to do this movie. So it was a classic Carrie thing to sort of write something like that that could only mean one thing for me. We couldn’t be more excited to have you see her in her final performance as Leia.”
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In 2017, Fisher’s brother Todd Fisher spoke about the same topic in an interview, foreshadowing Fisher’s continued presence in the franchise:
“Both of us were like, ‘Yes, 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’m not the only part in that equation, but I think the people deserve to have her. She’s owned by them. You don’t mess with this legacy. It would be like rewriting the Bible. To me, Star Wars is the holy grail of storytelling and lore and you can’t mess with it.”
Fans won’t have too much longer to wait to see Fisher back on-screen; ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ premieres in US theaters on December 20, 2019.