While fandom still mourns the untimely passing of iconic Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher, cold, practical business decisions regarding the future of her character in the upcoming two installments of the new Star Wars trilogy need to be made.
The Hollywood Reporter is stating that Colin Trevorrow, who is set to direct Episode IX, is heading to Los Angeles this week for a meeting with Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy. There the two will supposedly be hashing out ideas on how to tell the final installment the trilogy without Fisher on hand to play her character of former-Princess-now-General Leia Organa.
Earlier this year, Fisher had finished her work on the untitled Episode VIII under the direction of Rian Johnson. According to the Reporter, between the two upcoming movies, Fisher was to have two big scenes –
[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.
The Reporter doesn’t give much detail beyond that, though I personally am speculating that we’ll see the Leia/Luke reunion in the already shot Episode VIII and the Leia/Kylo confrontation was scheduled to happen in Episode IX. The Reporter does site a source that says that Leia was to have a bigger part in Episode IX than Episode VIII.
So how does Lucasfilm proceed?
One possibility is that they could find a way to create an exit for Fisher’s Leia in the upcoming Episode VIII from the material that Johnson has already shot, perhaps augmented by new material as well. Johnson has already had to overhaul his original concept for what his Star Wars film was going to be once before. He had originally based his screenplay on early drafts of The Force Awakens, which underwent significant changes once director JJ Abrams became attached to the project. However, this would not alleviate Trevorrow from having to restructure his story for Episode IX.
The Reporter suggests that Episode IX could take a cue from the currently-in-theaters Rogue One and use CG to create a performance in a similar manner that Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin was recreated. Given the divided opinion among fans and critics that greeted the Tarkin reveal in Rogue One, I am sure that if this possibility comes under consideration, it will be weighed very carefully.