Lucasfilm announced the full Star Wars 9 cast today, and with it the addition of the late, great Carrie Fisher. After Fisher’s untimely passing, many wondered how the character of Leia would be approached in the third and final chapter of this new trilogy. Fisher had completed work on Star Wars: The Last Jedi before her death, and director Rian Johnson and producer Kathleen Kennedy didn’t want to cut short Leia’s arc in that film to explain the character’s absence in Episode IX. Well now we know how Fisher’s absence will be dealt with, and it honestly sounds like the best possible scenario.
Lucasfilm says Leia Organa will again be portrayed by Carrie Fisher in Star Wars: Episode IX using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Director and co-writer J.J. Abrams explained the decision in a statement:
“We desperately loved Carrie Fisher. Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us. We were never going to recast, or use a CG character. With the support and blessing from her daughter, Billie, we have found a way to honor Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII.”
While some argued Leia should’ve been written out of The Last Jedi in post-production, there was no logical way to do it without also getting rid of Leia and Luke’s emotional reunion at the end of that film. So I think Johnson and Kennedy made the right call there, and it sounds like Abrams and Kennedy are also making the right call with regards to Episode IX.
It’s unclear how much unused footage featuring Fisher was shot for Force Awakens, but that film did undergo significant reshoots, so there could be quite a bit. Ultimately Abrams got that film to a place that appealed to mass audiences and Star Wars superfans alike, but it was not an easy road.
Filming on Star Wars: Episode IX, which Lucasfilm describes as “the final installment in the Skywalker saga,” begins on August 1st in London. The film hits theaters in December 2019.