Last December, Carrie Fisher unexpectedly passed away, calling into question what this would mean for Princess/General Leia Organa in future Star Wars movies. While it's already been confirmed that Fisher completed her work on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, 2019's Episode IX is still in the scripting stage, so obviously there will need to be changes made for Leia's role. In January, Lucasfilm assured fans that Fisher would not be recreated digitally, but according to her brother, Todd Fisher, there are still plans to bring Leia back for Episode IX though existing footage that he and Carrie Fisher's daughter, Billie Lourd, have given the studio the rights to use. Todd Fisher explained:
Both of us were like, 'Yes, how do you take her out of it?' And the answer is you don't.
Todd Fisher made this revelation at the TCM Film Festival in Los Angeles in an interview with NY Daily News' Confidential. The article didn't provide any other details on how Carrie Fisher's appearance will be handled besides verification that CGI won't be used. It's still unclear exactly how Leia Organa will fit into Episode IX, although Todd Fisher has faith that the filmmakers will do "great things." As for why he and Billie Lourd decided to grant permission for Lucasfilm to take this approach, Fisher said the following about his sister:
She's as much a part of it as anything and I think her presence now is even more powerful than it was, like Obi Wan --- when the saber cuts him down he becomes more powerful. I feel like that's what's happened with Carrie. I think the legacy should continue.
Carrie Fisher returned as Leia a little over the halfway point of Star Wars: The Force Awakens as one of The Resistance's top leaders. The original plan was for General Organa's role to increase in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars: Episode IX by giving her some especially important moments, like reuniting with her brother Luke and facing off against her son Ben, who goes by Kylo Ren nowadays. We'll have to wait until this winter see just how much The Last Jedi will make use of Leia, but rather than write her out afterwards or cast another actress to play Leia, it looks like Episode IX will do the best it can with existing footage to make sure that this beloved character the proper ending she deserves. It will be a while before we learn anything concrete about Episode IX, but rest assured, we'll be sure to keep you updated on what's happening with the blockbuster and the franchise's plans for Leia overall.
Star Wars: Episode IX hits theaters on May 23, 2019, but before that, you can see Carrie Fisher's final full film appearance when Star Wars: The Last Jedi is released later this year on December 15.