According to Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, the Star Wars: Episode IX script originally focused on General Leia (Carrie Fisher).
Between The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, the first two installments of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, a pattern emerges. While Episode VII is driven by original trilogy hero Han Solo, Episode VIII focuses more on a second original trilogy character, Luke Skywalker.
According to Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, the as-yet-untitled Episode IX was to complete the pattern. General Leia Organa, played by Carrie Fisher, was originally the star mentor of that film. But, as Kennedy told Vanity Fair for their cover story of The Last Jedi, all those plans changed when Fisher died suddenly in December 2016.
"“She was having a blast [filming The Last Jedi],” said Kennedy. “The minute she finished, she grabbed me and said, ‘I’d better be at the forefront of IX!’ Because Harrison was front and center on VII, and Mark is front and center on VIII. She thought IX would be her movie. And it would have been.”"
After Fisher’s death, Kennedy along with the Lucasfilm Story Group and Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow were forced to revamp the entire script for IX. Now, only they know what Leia’s story would have been in IX and how it has changed to accommodate this sad turn of events.
What we do know, however, is that Carrie Fisher’s Leia will not appear in any capacity in IX. Kennedy said as much in past interviews. She also told Vanity Fair, “we don’t have any intention of beginning a trend of re-creating actors who are gone.” That means Lucasfilm has no plans to insert her as a CGI face as they did for young Princess Leia and Tarkin in Rogue One.
More from Dork Side of the Force
- The High Republic Adventures (2023) 1 review
- Daniel José Older named a High Republic Adventures character after someone special
- How animation changed Star Wars: Ewoks and Droids
- Kelleran Beq comes to Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes
- The Mandalorian’s Pedro Pascal becomes No. 1 on IMDb’s Starmeter for 2023
At this point, Lucasfilm has a few options for telling Leia’s story, none of them easy or completely satisfying. They could replace Fisher with another actress. But aged General Leia is too associated with Fisher for the transition not to feel awkward. They could also write Leia a story where she dies off-camera; but then, that would feel like an injustice to her character. Another option is Lucasfilm write a story where Leia sweeps away off-camera to the Senate or some other location. She could remain alive in the film, and Lucasfilm could give her a proper send-off in a novel or a comic book.
Whatever Lucasfilm decides to do, the decision itself isn’t easy. That’s why I’m trusting their expert judgment over fan one. I trust them more than anyone else to do justice to Carrie Fisher and her iconic character.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which stars Carrie Fisher as General Leia, premieres on December 15, 2017. Star Wars: Episode IX, meanwhile, debuts in theaters on May 24, 2019.