Rumours have been flying over the past weeks after Carrie Fisher's tragic and untimely death as to how the Star Wars juggernaut she helped create would respond, given her character Leia Organa's continued presence in the saga. Rumours always fly over Star Wars, but given the circumstances, these took on a markedly different tone. Would Leia be recast? Would she be written out of the story somehow? Or would Lucasfilm do as it did with Peter Cushing (and in one shot, with Fisher herself) in Rogue One and recreate the role via CGI?
Rumour no more, because Lucasfilm has (somewhat uncharacteristically) issued a statement on the subject:
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 General 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.
There you go, then. Leia will not be digitally recreated for Star Wars...any more than she has been already. Fisher had already completed work on the upcoming and untitled Star Wars: Episode VIII, in what's alleged to be an expanded role, which will certainly make that film a bittersweet viewing experience. I don't recall there being a Star Wars film dedicated to anyone's memory in the past, but this seems as good a time as any to do it.
I'm going to take this opportunity to stand up and stake my preference for the character's future: I think Leia should be recast, should the character survive into Episode IX. As unthinkable as that may be to many, it's the best option of a bad bunch - one which doesn't involve having the character die offscreen or flee the narrative for some otherwise unmotivated reason. Carrie Fisher was far more than just Leia, and to say there can't be Leia without Fisher only further conflates the two, when Fisher's other achievements should be allowed a chance to shine. Hell, spitballing here - I watched Postcards From The Edge on the weekend. Ask Meryl Streep if she'd be up for paying homage to her friend and colleague. You know she'd nail it.
Whatever happens, we can at least take comfort in the fact that Carrie Fisher's final screen appearance won't be digital in nature. Let's cling to that, and to each other, as we look forward to Episode VIII.