Star Wars execs, filmmaker meeting next week on how to handle Leia

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Jan 6, 2017

The Lucasfilm creative team will soon begin figuring out a plan for a universe without Carrie Fisher. Spoilers ahead ...

As the company -- and the world -- continues to mourn the actress and writer following her Dec. 27 death, Lucasfilm CEO Kathleen Kennedy must nevertheless contend with how the main Star Wars saga handles the character of General Leia Organa from this point on.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, sources say that Leia, who had a relatively brief role in last year's Episode VII, The Force Awakens, was set to make a larger contribution to Episodes VIII and IX, including key scenes in which she reunites with her brother Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and confronts her son Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who murdered his father Han Solo in The Force Awakens.

Although it's not clear which film those scenes were set to show up in, a photo posted online last week by Oscar Isaac suggests that the reunion of Luke and Leia has already been shot for Episode VIII. Fisher reportedly completed all her work for that film, which wrapped filming last year and is scheduled for release this Dec. 15.

Episode IX is a different matter, however. That film is not due for release until 2019 and will probably begin filming in early 2018, with director Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World) and his writing partner Derek Connolly currently working on the script (at one point, Episode VIII director/writer Rian Johnson was supposed to pen the screenplay for Episode IX as well, although that seems to have changed). Next week, Trevorrow will travel to Los Angeles for meetings with Kennedy about how to proceed. Will Leia be written out of Episode IX or given an offscreen death? And will this affect her role in Episode VIII, to the point of doing reshoots? 

While the answers to those questions are unclear, one thing is certain: Anything can be changed in the Star Wars universe. J.J. Abrams made extensive changes to The Force Awakens in post-production, which in turn necessitated Johnson doing a major rewrite on Episode VIII to line up with the alterations that Abrams made. And we've all heard about the massive reshoots and post-production retooling that Rogue One went through.

Speaking of which, that film's CG resurrection of the late Peter Cushing as Governor Tarkin and its closing image of a young Leia (also achieved via CG) raises a thornier question: Could a wholly CG Leia still be a part of Episode IX? The ethical, emotional and legal issues raised by that -- not to mention questions of good taste -- are a topic for a whole different article, although our feeling is that Lucasfilm should probably not go down that path, or do so sparingly.

What do you think Lucasfilm and the filmmakers should do? Is there a tasteful, delicate way to both preserve the saga's story and honor the memory of the beloved Carrie Fisher?