No long after Carrie Fisher’s death a lot of people started asking questions about Princess Leia, “did Fisher finish her work on Episode VIII?” “What will they do with Leia in Episode IX?” all started to swirl around the internet.
Honestly these things were the furthest thing from my mind and usually I’m a pretty insensitive person who uses humor to get through tough times, but there was no humor from me, nor were there any thoughts about the future of Star Wars from me, I just sat back reflected on Fisher’s career and her tongue and cheek humor about her career and more importantly about a galaxy far far away, like her joke about every time she looked in the mirror she owed George Lucas a quarter.
Of course I don’t hold anything against fans who had concerns about upcoming movies because Star Wars is more than just a series of movies to fans and I certainly don’t fault Disney for looking to a future without Carrie Fisher since they’ve invested billions in Lucas Films and Star Wars so they do need to start making plans for the future.
My thinking is though, as fans, is it too soon to start wondering what will happen with Leia. We’re now two weeks out from her passing and I still can’t bring myself to start wondering what Episode IX will look like without her, at least from a fan perspective. But if we must think about the future of Star Wars, how will Lucas Films handle Fisher’s passing in the movies.
This isn’t the first time we’ve had to tackle this with a big film series, for instant Richard Harris’s death death after Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, he was replaced by Richard Gambon, but with the Dumbledore make-up and beard it wasn’t a hard adjustment, especially since Harris only played Dumbledore in one film, unlike Fisher’s 4 film and just iconic Leia performance. Also, recently Star Trek has had to tackle this in two instances. First off with Leonard Nimoy‘s passing before filming Star Trek: Beyod and I felt the film makers did a great job honoring his memory in the scene where the let the new Spock know of Spock Prime’s passing. Of course his death was off-screen because of the time of Nimoy’s passing, it’s respectful and pulls off just enough emotion for the audience and doesn’t distract us, not to mention it worked well into the plot. Also Star Trek will have to figure out how to handle the character Checkov with the untimely passing of Anton Yelchin, which I have no doubt they will do just as respectfully as they did with Nimoy.
So what does that mean for Leia since there have been reports that she was going to have a large role in Episode IX, which I’m not sure the validity of that since the script hasn’t been written yet and it could be be just sites reporting that to get traffic, which we don’t do. So how will Fisher’s passing be handled. Well there are a number of ways, one, they could give here a respectful off screen death, similar to the one done for Nimoy in Star Trek Beyond. Maybe Luke and Rey start off the movie in a massive battle against Ren and the disturbance in the Force is too much for Leia and when they return they’re informed about her passing (though Luke already knows through the Force) and Luke feels responsible for it and that leads us into the plot of Episode IX (of course this all depends on what happens in VIII).
Another is CG like they did with Tarkin and Young Leia in Rogue One, of course with this I would say less is more. The more we see of CG characters brought to life (especially on the big screen) the more fake it looks. So if they go this route using it sparingly in the beginning and then once more in the finale to give Leia a nice send off would be touching and a good way to handle her death in real life.
Lastly, they could recast her, I think this is the worst idea possible, namely because I think there would be a huge backlash from fans, and I don’t think that any actress would want to take the role because of that. I think the only person fans would accept would be Carrie’s daughter Billie Lourd in the role with either make-up or CG aging affects. However, her being only 24 that might be really hard to pull off. I honestly think this isn’t even an option for Lucas Films, but worth mentioning.