Lucasfilm has some very interesting and difficult choices to make in the near future regarding General Leia in Star Wars: Episode VIII and IX. With the devastating loss of Carrie Fisher, General Leia’s role in the upcoming episodes has become a hurdle they have to overcome that both respects the legacy of Leia, Carrie Fisher, and the heart of the story for the next two episodes in the main Star Wars saga. THR says the braintrust behind Star Wars is getting together the week of January 10th to explore its options in the aftermath of the loss of Fisher.
Insiders tell The Hollywood Reporter that at least two key scenes are planned for Episode VIII (Dec. 15) and Episode IX (2019): a Leia reunion with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and a confrontation with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), her son who killed Harrison Ford’s Han Solo in 2015’s The Force Awakens.
With Star Wars: Episode VIII’s reshoots still on the horizon, one would think there would be significant changes coming during that time. I really wanted to see Luke and Leia together again. That said, if that is unlikely to happen now, it does preserve the ending of Return of the Jedi a little bit, making it even more special since it is the last time we will see Han, Leia, Luke, Lando, Wedge, and the droids together again as a happy space family.
The complications in moving forward might lead the creatives at Lucasfilm to make some inspired choices for the sequel trilogy. We could potentially see some of Leia’s scenes moved over to Luke Skywalker, Kylo Ren’s only living family member we know of.
Trevorrow, the filmmaker behind Jurassic World who is directing Episode IX, is due to arrive in L.A. the week of Jan. 10 for meetings with Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy to discuss options. But unlike in other cases where actors died during the filmmaking process — Paul Walker in Furious 7 comes to mind — it appears that the team has time to explore solutions.
The CGI option is clearly something that needs to be explored. But I hope they don’t go that way, personally. My hope is that the work done for VIII allows them to write Leia out in a satisfying way, but without knowing what was shot for Leia it is hard to guess which scenarios might work the best for them.
The impact upon Ben Solo’s character will be interesting to follow. Star Wars has classically been a redemption story. Star Wars says that even a person as horrible as Darth Vader can be redeemed. It would seem that Ben would not be the exception to that rule. His character seems difficult to redeem considering he killed one of the most beloved heroes of our generation, Han Solo. The key to that redemption and that atonement was likely to come through his mother played by Carrie Fisher. My assumption is that this complicates Kylo Ren’s path more than anything, but that’s just an assumption.
I think we’re always going to wonder how the sequel trilogy would have been different had we not lost Carrie Fisher. Now we can only hope that adversity inspires creativity and through this difficult loss the storytelling still prospers.