Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy has sadly confirmed something that is probably for the best anyway.
Speaking with ABC News (via Deadline), the president of all things Star Wars confirmed that the late Carrie Fisher -- who died last December after completing her work as General Leia Organa in the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi -- would not be appearing posthumously in Episode IX:
“Sadly, Carrie will not be in IX. But we will see a lot of Carrie in VIII."
But what about comments made by Fisher's brother Todd, who said last week that he and Fisher's daughter, Billie Lourd, had given Lucasfilm permission to use footage of Fisher in the series' ninth entry? Todd Fisher told the New York Daily News, “Both of us were like, ‘Yes, how do you take her out of it?’ And the answer is you don’t."
Kennedy said that Todd was "probably confused," adding:
"We finished everything in VIII, and Carrie is absolutely phenomenal in the movie. We’re so happy that we were able to complete shooting in the summer. Unfortunately, Carrie passed away. So by the time we were well underway with Episode IX, in our thoughts, we had not written the script. But we’ve regrouped and started over again in January, so, sadly, Carrie will not be in IX."
That jibes with the official statement Lucasfilm issued in December, in which the company said it had "no plans to digitally re-create Carrie Fisher’s performance as Princess or General Leia Organa” in Episode IX. While Todd Fisher had specifically referred to some kind of existing footage of his sister -- and not a CG version -- Kennedy has made it clear that the late actress will not show up at all.
Frankly, that's the way it should be. We have no idea what remaining footage does or does not exist of Carrie Fisher, and while it's also certainly possible for Lucasfilm and Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow to create a digital replica, they will apparently leave her memory alone altogether. It was a bit unnerving to see a de-aged Leia and a digitally resurrected Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One; using Fisher the same way -- either through existing footage or CG -- just three years after her untimely death would border on disrespectful.
The question now is how Episode IX will handle her absence. While Leia was in a handful of scenes in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it seems as if she might have a more substantial amount of screen time in The Last Jedi, but with very few clues about the storyline yet there's no clear indication of where the movie leaves her.
Of course, there is always the chance that Leia -- like Han Solo in The Force Awakens -- doesn't survive The Last Jedi, which raises a whole new set of issues for Lucasfilm: if that indeed is the case, how tastefully is the character's death handled? Were some kind of reshoots necessitated to soften the blow after Fisher's passing? Again, that all remains a mystery for now.
But one mystery is solved for sure: The Last Jedi will mark Carrie Fisher's final performance as our princess and general. Do you agree that that's the proper way to go?