May 9, 2017 – Despite a previous statement from Todd Fisher, Carrie Fisher’s brother, that the late actress would appear in Star Wars Episode IX, Disney has clarified that Episode VIII, The Last Jedi, will be her last film.
In an interview with ABC News on April 14th, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said that Carrie Fisher will not be in Episode IX. Asked about Todd Fisher’s remarks stating otherwise, Kennedy said:
“He was probably confused because we finished everything in [Episode] VIII, and Carrie is absolutely phenomenal in the movie. And we’re so happy that we were able to complete shooting in the summer. Unfortunately, Carrie passed away, so by the time we were well underway with Episode IX – in our thoughts, we had not written the script yet – but we’ve regrouped. We started over again in January. So sadly Carrie will not be in IX. We’ll see a lot of her in VIII, which is great.”
It’s probable that Disney/Lucasfilm had approached Todd Fisher and Carrie’s daughter, Billie Lourd, about the possibility of using completed footage of Carrie Fisher in the final episode. The Fisher family had agreed and had given legal permission. Since then, however, Disney/Lucasfilm have made a final decision to write Carrie out of Episode IX.
How the creative minds at Lucasfilm will explain the absence of General Leia in Episode IX is unknown at this time. Possibilities include killing off her character toward the end of VIII or explaining her demise during the opening crawl of IX. Another option is for Leia’s character to live on, but to leave her (visually, at least) out of any footage in IX.
The writers and producers will have to tread extremely carefully when it comes to one of the most beloved actresses in the Star Wars universe. At a minimum, fans will expect a credible and poignant send-off, and not simply an abrupt write-off of her character.
Director Colin Trevorrow and co-writer Derek Connolly had originally planned to include Leia in the final movie. But they were forced to rethink the storyline and Leia’s role in it after Carrie Fisher’s unexpected passing last December.
Kathleen Kennedy told Entertainment Weekly: “Obviously, with Carrie having passed away, it shook everybody. We pretty much started over.”
For now, all eyes are on the next installment, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. Rumors have been swirling, even before Carrie Fisher’s passing, that we would finally see Leia use her Force abilities in the defense of others.
Oscar Isaac, who plays Resistance pilot Poe Dameron in The Force Awakens and the upcoming The Last Jedi, dropped a tantalyzing clue last month in an interview with Business Insider.
He said he had filmed a heated and intense moment with Carrie Fisher: “It was basically my first day [on set] and we did about 25 takes total. Half of them were on me and half of them were on her. I can’t give anything away, but there was a scene where there was some physicality there and it was shot just over and over and over. She relished the physicality of it, let me just say. It was pretty intense. It will be funny to see what they cut together based on that.”
By some accounts, General Leia will have a much larger screen presence in TLJ than she did in TFA. Recall that she is dealing with the knowledge that her own son has murdered Han Solo and she is now grappling with the same issue that Luke had faced in confronting their father over three decades earlier: Is redemption possible?
We will likely find out on December 15, 2017, when The Last Jedi premieres.