The “galaxy far, far away” suffered a might blow in late December with the tragic (and sudden) death of original star Carrie Fisher.
Amidst the grieving, however, Fisher’s passing also raised a number of questions for the future of the franchise. Her character – the iconic princess-turned-general Leia Organa, whom she returned to play in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens – has been said to take on a more pivotal role in writer/director Rian Johnson’s still-untitled Star Wars: Episode VIII and potentially Episode IX as well.
So, with the actress no longer with us, the issue of exactly how to resolve Leia’s arc remains up in the air.
Speculation centered on whether Lucasfilm would opt to digitally recreate Fisher’s likeness for the upcoming films, as the studio does in the closing moments of the now-playing Rogue One. That film briefly features a CGI Leia as she appeared in Star Wars: A New Hope, tying the new release directly into that original film.
Now, to the relief of many in the Star Wars fan community, Lucasfilm has directly addressed ongoing rumors that future films in the saga will feature a digital version of Fisher’s Leia, telling StarWars.com this is one route they are definitely not going to take.
“We don’t normally respond to fan or press speculation, but there is a rumor circulating that we would like to address. We want to assure our fans that Lucasfilm has no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher’s performance as Princess or Gen. Leia Organa.
“Carrie Fisher was, is, and always will be a part of the Lucasfilm family. She was our princess, our general, and more importantly, our friend. We are still hurting from her loss.
“We cherish her memory and legacy as Princess Leia, and will always strive to honor everything she gave to Star Wars.”
The news that Lucasfilm has no current plans to use modern technology to resurrect the recently deceased actress will no doubt come as a relief to many Star Wars fans, as it raises even more palpable ethical questions than the inclusion of Peter Cushing – who passed away in 1994 at age 81 – as Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One.
The decision not to digitally recreate Fisher in upcoming films follows a recent episode of BBC Newsnight (via Heroic Hollywood) that referenced a meeting between Fisher’s estate and studio executives.
Speculation was that Lucasfilm could be negotiating to include CGI versions of Leia in future films.
Notably, the brief appearance by Leia in Rogue One was completed with the actress’s enthusiastic involvement and full approval, according to an ABC News interview with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. Of course, there’s always the chance Lucasfilm could change its mind at some point down the line, as the studio presumably does retain at least some likeness rights for Fisher, or re-enter negotiations with her estate after more time has passed following her death.
For the time being, fans can look forward to Leia’s next (and possibly final) appearance in the franchise in Episode VIII this December.
Robert Yaniz Jr.
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