The Star Wars cast and crew are in mourning, particularly those who have worked with her on the franchise since the 1970s, but, very soon, the show must go on.
We saw Princess Leia rise to General Leia in Episode 7: The Force Awakens, and though her role was limited in this film, in Rian Johnson’s Episode 8 sequel (which wrapped before Fisher’s death) she is expected to play a much bigger part. It’s possible, of course, that the character will die in the movie, but given Han Solo perished in the last film this is perhaps unlikely.
So how, then, will Leia figure in Episode 9 following Fisher’s tragic passing?
On the day of her death, the ninth film's director Colin Trevorrow posted this on Twitter:
A silhouette of Leia during her princess years, it was certainly intended simply as a tribute to Fisher, but its message - that Fisher was absolutely iconic and irreplaceable - Disney would be wise to listen to.
Here are its options:
Simply don’t feature Leia on screen
For all we know, the story may have progressed to a place where General Leia doesn’t take an active role in proceedings, and she only need be mentioned by other characters. This is perhaps unlikely though, at least in the existing script, giving how large Leia looms in the franchise.
Repurpose existing, unused footage and dialogue Fisher provided for the previous films
The Sopranos did this in order to quickly write out Tony Soprano’s mother after actress Nancy Marchand died while the show was on hiatus.
Recast the part
Not unprecedented in Star Wars, but completely unthinkable given how popular Fisher was.
*Rogue One spoilers ahead*
Recreate Leia using CGI
This might be the most likely option, given the precedent set by standalone movie Rogue One, which featured a very realistic young Princess Leia who was created through motion capture by a different actress and brought back Grand Moff Tarkin using the same method, original actor Peter Cushing having died back in 1994.
Seeing Fisher brought back to “life” through VFX would no doubt delight and bring tears to the eyes of some fans, but would also anger a significant portion. Tarkin was only a minor character and young Leia was created while Fisher was still with us - many would consider a CGI simulacrum of Fisher at her age of death to be in bad taste, and I’d be inclined to agree with them. This option would make the most sense narrative-wise but would do Fisher a disservice, her personality being larger than any digital replica could reproduce, however nuanced.
Perhaps, Star Wars - the franchise that made her famous - can say goodbye to Fisher in a more subtle way - her back turned to the camera as she surveys the universe and sees peace restored to it.
The chances are these issues have already been settled however as, like Robin Williams before her, Fisher will have likely established rules for the use of her likeness after her death.
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