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How Will Carrie Fisher’s Death Affect ‘Star Wars: Episode 8’ & ‘Episode 9’?

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Carrie Fisher attends the 54th New York Film Festival on October 10, 2016. (Getty)

Legendary actress Carrie Fisher, who is known for playing Leia Organa in the Star Wars saga, has died.

In addition to this being an enormously tragic loss, Fisher’s sudden death also raises questions about the future of the new Star Wars trilogy. How is her passing going to affect things going forward? Did she still have any more left to film?

The next movie in the franchise is Star Wars: Episode VIII, which will be released on December 15th, 2017. Filming for this movie ended long before Fisher’s death, with production concluding in July 2016. An official from Lucasfilm confirmed to TMZ on Tuesday that Fisher had no scenes left to film for Episode VIII.

However, it was expected that both Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher would also return for the final movie in the new trilogy, Star Wars: Episode IX. This is the sequel that will have to deal with Fisher’s death, as that movie is still in pre-production and does not start filming until 2017.

From a plot perspective, Leia’s absence will not be easily swept under the rug considering that she is the leader of the Resistance and will likely be a crucial player in the group’s struggle against the First Order in the next two films. The new Star Wars canon is clearly still interested in Leia’s story, as she was recently the subject of the book Star Wars: Bloodline, which follows Leia Organa in the years prior to Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

In fact, the director of Star Wars: Episode IX, Colin Trevorrow, said in an interview earlier this year that he wants Leia to have a bigger role in his movie. When speaking about Luke and Leia in a January 2016 interview with E!, Trevorrow said that he’s excited to “find new places that we can take those characters.”

“They are icons, but they’re also people that have suffered tremendous loss and challenge over the course of all these films,” Trevorrow said of Luke and Leia, seemingly confirming that Leia would play a significant role in Episode IX along with her brother.

Technically, though, we don’t know for sure that Leia doesn’t die in Episode VIII and that comments like Trevorrow’s were not merely intended to keep this surprise intact. But assuming the plan as of last week was for Carrie Fisher to be in both Episode VIII and Episode IX, Disney is now presented with several equally distressing options.

First, they could recast Leia Organa. This is often the go-to solution in these sorts of situations, such as when Dumbledore actor Richard Harris died in between Harry Potter movies and was replaced by Michael Gambon. Usually, this is the option taken when it’s completely impossible to write the character out of the story; there’s obviously no way to adapt Harry Potter without including Dumbledore, and so Warner Bros. didn’t really have a choice.

But Dumbledore was a character who existed before Harris delivered his performance, whereas Princess Leia and Carrie Fisher are intrinsically linked. For many, having any other actress play the character feels wrong.

The second option is to just cut Leia Organa out of Episode IX, giving her original role to another character and explaining her absence through dialogue. This is what Lionsgate did for the final Hunger Games film, Mockingjay: Part 2. Philip Seymour Hoffman suddenly died during production, and so his remaining scenes were rewritten so that Plutarch’s actions were performed by other characters.

However, that situation was a bit different seeing as Hoffman had already filmed most of his Mockingjay: Part 2 scenes prior to his death, whereas Carrie Fisher hasn’t filmed a single scene for Episode IX. If Disney were to go ahead with this option, they could even theoretically reshoot and rewrite some Episode VIII scenes so that Leia departs the franchise in that movie, with it perhaps being said that she died in battle.

A potential third option is one that is only now becoming available to movie studios: Fisher’s likeness could be digitally recreated using CGIAfter all, Disney just premiered Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, in which Peter Cushing appears as Grand Moff Tarkin even though Cushing died in 1994. A CGI Carrie Fisher shows up in that movie too, with a young Leia Organa briefly making an appearance in order to tie the film into the original Star Wars.

With Star Wars Episode IX, then, Disney could theoretically shift focus away from Leia but still include her in some scenes via the magic of CGI and stand-in actors, thus granting the studio freedom to give this character a proper sendoff. But it’s up to Disney and to Fisher’s family to decide if this is ethical and is what the actress would have wanted.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, John Knoll, the CCO of Industrial Light and Magic, said that Lucasfilm does not plan to regularly utilize this technique of digitally recreating deceased actors going forward, although he made this comment prior to Fisher’s death.

“It is extremely labor-intensive and expensive to do. I don’t imagine anybody engaging in this kind of thing in a casual manner,” Knoll said. “We’re not planning on doing this digital re-creation extensively from now on. It just made sense for this particular movie.”

Star Wars Episode VIII will be released on December 15th, 2017. Star Wars Episode IX will be released on May 23th, 2019, assuming Fisher’s death does not delay production.


Read more about Carrie Fisher in Spanish at AhoraMismo.com:

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84 comments

        • How so? Sir Michael Gambon is a far better actor than the arrogant Harris. And his Dumbledore is a lot more sympathetic than the cold, wooden portayal by Harris.

          • That’s Bullshit Cush Harris was a great Dumbledore…witty, compassionate and totally likable.I am a fan of Michael Gambon also but the transition was a tough one.Harris had made the part his own.

            • I agree, Harris was a good Dumbledore, and Gambon was good also. With the exception of his portrayal in Goblet of Fire, where I don’t think he understood the character and it wasn’t Dumbledore-ish. But by Order and the remaining films, I feel Gambon properly portrayed the Dumbledore from the books.

  1. I grew up with Star Wars and feel great sadness with Carrie Fisher’s death. She will be missed. In my opinion, for our beloved Star Wars, the story must go on. I would hope that Disney would find a look alike actor to play Leia in honor or Carrie Fisher. However, it will bring a tear to my eye to see someone else in that role. ““Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.” – Master Yoda

    • Sorrys, but Yoda is an idiot. Palpatine created the Empire right under his nose, and Yoda only realized it long after it was too late. Master my a**

    • I agree w/ u, Russell. Her death has hit me extremely hard. I know I will miss her. My dtr’s name is Carrie & my name is Debbie so I have always felt a ‘kinship’ w/ Carrie & her Mother, even though we are not related, nor did I know her personally. I just can’t believe she is gone. Sincere prayers for her family. :(

    • I prefer if Princess Leia wasn’t recast. I definitely agree with this Eugene person. It could be paying Carrie Fisher the least bit of respect and regard for her memory. I prefer the original series would be done including Leia, at least while the original series is still in effect, and until the series gets rebooted again. I’m thinking of a new reboot of Star Trek, since when I saw that Pavel Chekov wouldn’t be recast, due to Anton Yelchin’s passing, I didn’t like it.

  2. Stevie Nicks can hopefully stand-in for Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa. They look so much alike back in the late 70’s, even today.

  3. I can’t imagine any actor other than Carrie Fisher playing the character of Leia Organa. That character is hers the same as Han Solo was Fords, and Luke Skywalker is Hamill’s. Do it the Star Wars way… Leia is on a resistance base that gets blown to kingdom come by Snoke, and Hux.

  4. this year is a bad year for celeb deaths. They will probably have to recast. this is very sad. She was not that old at all. Her mom is the great actress Debbie Reynolds who is still alive.

  5. I really hope they don’t go CGI, I didn’t care for it at all in Rogue One. It felt cheap and off-putting.
    I would rather they explain it from a distance. Her ship crashed with no survivors or something like that.
    Although that is a tragic and short way to kill off such an iconic character, it’s also a very realistic thing that can happen. Just like how sudden and shocking her real death was.
    We don’t expect those kind of death scenes in movies and when they happen we often feel gipped. Like we should have gotten a more grand send-off for that character. But it’s very realistic.

  6. As much as I dislike CGI, I’d go with it, as long as the family is OK with it. Better to have a real conclusion with her character using her actual likeness that an actress who can never compete. It would be a fitting memorial for her rather than feel like a fake afterthought

  7. I can’t help but wonder how Fisher’s death will alter the post-production of the upcoming Star Wars Episode VIII which has been shot and is in post-production. Will they rewrite the ending? Will this force some sort of release date slippage? Will she appear in Episode IX as CGI a la ‘Rogue One’? Interesting set of challenges at the MouseHouse. Arick Wierson

    • it’s been out for almost two weeks… if you haven’t seen it by now, its your own fault the movie was spoiled. What else did you expect from an article about Star Wars?

  8. Personally, my preferred option would be a scene opening IX similarly to that of two with Padme, though this time the assassin attains their mark. After that, Leia’s part in future events could be given to another character or characters. It’s one thing to recast when an actor has only done one movie, but a completely different matter when that actor has embodied the role for close to 40 years.

  9. Using a limited amount of CGI, they can film reshoots of episode 8 and kill Leia at the end of that film. That would require a rewriting of the plot of episode 9, but would be a tremendous dramatic twist, adding additional weight to Luke’s journey and a way for him to flirt with, and maybe even cross over to, the dark side as he seeks revenge. I don’t think anyone else should play Leia unless her family insists it is what she would wish for.

  10. This is easy. Have the First Order attack the rebel base while Rey, Chewbacca and R2-D2 farting round with Luke Skywalker. Pogue, BB8 and Finn escape, Leia didn’t make it due to Kylo Ren

  11. !NOTE TO THE EDITOR! The Leia in this movie is NOT CGI. She is a lookalike! Feel free to delete this comment after you fix this. Thank you.

  12. I am very sorry to hear of Carrie Fishers passing, May she be in peace now. I am just as sorry to read some of these comments regarding re shooting episode 8 scenes and killing her character off. Terrible talk, absolutely terrible. This must definitely not happen because this is how Carrie left the world, she knows these scene’s, they must remain as she filmed them, as she remembered them.
    Rest now Carrie Fisher, we miss you!

  13. Wow you are right on with Stevie Nicks and Carrie Fisher! Uncanny resemblence. RIP Carrie Fisher and let’s keep Stevie Nicks in good health so she can do the role.

  14. Meryl Streep would be a good choice if they recast the role. She is a respected actress who would do the role justice. There is no easy way for Disney to deal with this. If they recast the role, people will say it is wrong. If they explain Leia’s absence with a line or two, it will not be a good sendoff. CGI will not be accepted. Writing Leia out of the IX with no mention of her whatsoever will not go down well. Regardless of how Disney deals with this, the fans need to understand. I feel bad for all involved. RIP Princess Leia. Let’s honor her memory by making the best of a bad situation. Remember, the filmmakers have a tough situation to deal with. I am sure their solution will not mean any disrespect towards Carrie Fisher.

  15. Firstly, my condolences to her family and friends and to all of us that lost one of our favorite actors and playwrights.

    My opinion is that they should write her out in Episode 8, not kill her off, but have her retire or go do something else for a good reason and any scenes that might need her face for that they CGI with the family’s permission. Minimize the need for it, but do it for continuity sake. I am sure Carrie would want the “show to go on”. It may change the plot of 8 somewhat, but for closure in the universe and with the fans, I think it seems appropriate.

    Then… way down the road… they can have a future Star Wars movie where they cast a new Princess Leia but as a much older version of the character that is similar in appearance and mannerisms. And have her pass away as an elder within the Star Wars universe. I hope they make a respectful and clever choice. Lucas Arts have been getting it right since the change in ownership so I am sure they are devastated about her loss.

  16. It would be quite a difficult decision for Carries family, friends and all her many work colleges to make. I did read somewhere that all the original main cast members were thrilled to sign up for all three films when approached (I may be wrong about that but that’s what I recall reading at some stage going back before the two last recent films). So I would think that the people closest to her including the films producers having probably discussed the plot for the final film with her in some manner before her passing, based on that I am sure they will proceed with compassion and respect this wonderful actress deserves.

  17. I know people had a minor issue with them using Peter Cushing as CGI in Rogue One and the young Leia as CGI as well. But as a Star Wars fan I can only hope Disney spend a lot more money on the final installment and use CGi to recapture Carrie Fisher for the last time. In my eyes it will be a great way to honour her rather than making up some stpry to why she isn’t in it at all. Please honour her passing with some decency and make her proud! She will be sorely missed that’s for sure, so please Disney do something right once more!

  18. sorry but carries looks way diff then she did 30 yrs ago due to all the surgies and crap botox.. not a way to die!! with he bip9lar crap and all the thingsin her life no amount of surgeries could save the role she had now in eo 8.. and force awakens suckeed.. j j should ver direct a movie again1! im glad rian is taking help as plp dont even appprecite y the 90s had superiar directors.. if carrie looked the same nd kept her shape sshe would be alive to finish but i dont get y they waited 30 yrs to make force awaens.. evryones old and grumpy…. oh welll rip carrie

  19. Could always have Leia’s face damaged in battle inbetween 8 & 9 forcing her to wear a mask for episode 9. Hey, it runs in the family.

  20. The best solution if possible given EpVIII plot arc, is to have Leia die in battle or assassinated by the First Order and for these scenes not to be shown, or shown from a distance, then for Leia to appear as a force ghost to guide Rey and perhaps in some way help bring Ben back to the light side of the force. She wouldn’t need to have a lot of Force Ghost scenes, just one or two key parts, and a CGI Force Ghost would be a lot easier to produce than a full live character.

  21. They gonna have to do extensive reshoot on Ep 8 and kill off Princess Leia. And the whole Ep 9 story will have to be re-written. And a huge chunk of ep 8 story also need to be changed!
    It’s shitstorm Disney!

    • It’s a shame that the reward for the original characters returning to the series is to be presumed by many fans to be chop-fodder. Ford got what he wanted, snuff-Solo. Two movies left, two Skywalker twins. Disney obviously isn’t going to let the cat out of the bag if Leia met her demise in Ep. 8, but if there isn’t a lot of activity in their camp that will be a real give-away (reshoots, etc.) as the film is practically in the can as of now. I get that sacrifice goes along with heroic commitment to a cause, but it would be a shame to limp away from Ep. 9 with all three (and likely poor Chewy too, because, why the heck not?) meeting their ends. So if Luke is scheduled to sputter out in either, I hope some real thought goes into Leia’s course. It’s a little shameful, and maybe childish/selfish for everyone to be asking “what about out Star Wars movies?” right after someone so young (yes, I’ll give 60 a “youngish” at the minimum) passes so tragically…but then again, without Star Wars, we’d only need half the internet. Lastly, my favorite posts revolve around replacing Fisher with Stevie Nicks…crazily enough that would be my knee-jerk preference given the options…talk about left field.

    • If they have to rewrite ep9 anyway then why reshoot ep8? Why not just have Leia die then make up a story about how the rebellion and her family come to terms with her death? At the worst, maybe throw in a scene of Leia’s flagship being destroyed by a First Order raid or something, as a lead in to Ep9

  22. Judging by the comments, it seems that everyone here would not like to see a recast. I myself don’t really know if I could approve of a recast, mainly because I cant see anyone else in her role. But they did get a new Harry Potter for The Cursed Child play, which I was scared about since I can only see Daniel Radcliffe in the role. But he turned out to play a very good Harry, so the same could go with a Leia recast. But I hope its not CGI. I just noticed it to much during Rogue One.

  23. I’m not a huge fan of CGI but by 2019 who knows how amazing it might look. Technology is always advancing. My problem with that isnt the actual CGI character but the words. How do we know how Carrie would have acted the scene or changed up the dialogue. Something about that just seems not right. But I guess if Billie & Todd are ok with it then who am I to say otherwise.

    As far as recasting – I really dont think thats a good idea but I will say Ive loved both Carrie & Stevie for freakin years and Ive never seen the resemblance until now. Holy crap the could be sisters.

  24. One last comment Disney should leave VIII just as Carrie filmed it and how the story she knew was developing. For IX do whatever to flip up the story but VIII should be just as she knew it. So at least We can feel like she completed VIII the way it was while she was here.

  25. If a replacement actress is used one might consider Sally Field. Right height and features. And no one can dispute her acting ability. She is older than Carrie was but looks great. I think she could pull it off if anyone can.

  26. I think a good way to deal with this is for Leia to have sacrificed herself somehow (perhaps to save the Resistance) between eps. 8 and 9. Then maybe have her appear from time to time in ep. 9 as a Force ghost, her daughter playing the part, and made up to look like her in the original trilogy (since she’s younger). Whatever they decide to do, it’s not going to be easy. RIP Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds…

  27. Frankly, I think the best way would deal with it in the crawl:

    The Resistance has been dealt a crushing and potentially FINAL BLOW. GENERAL LEIA ORGANA has been assassinated by agents of the FIRST ORDER …”

    This could be have a galvanizing effect on the Resistance. Squabbling between various factions of the Resistance would stop — everyone comes together and their battle cry becomes — “FOR LEIA!”

    It’s clean, no replacement actors pr cgi, and you could even utilize flashbacks to keep her image in the final film.

    It would also keep from having to limit her part in 8.

    I gift this to Disney.

  28. What would be best would be best would be to re-shoot scenes and shoot new scenes perhaps evan having Ben kill her like he killed Han