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More than 30 years after Return of the Jedi's release, Carrie Fisher reprised Princess Leia Organa for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. She was one of the many actors from the Original Trilogy to return for the new trilogy, but compared to Han Solo, Leia didn't have a lot to do in Episode VII. That's won't be the case in Star Wars: The Last Jedi this December, as the Resistance General will be more prominent. And had Fisher not passed away late last year, her involvement would have grown further, as she specifically requested to be front and center for Episode IX. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy recalled that when The Last Jedi's principal photography concluded last summer, Fisher did the following:
The minute she finished, she grabbed me and said, 'I'd better be at the forefront of IX!' Because Harrison was front and center on VII, and Mark is front and center on VIII. She thought IX would be her movie. And it would have been.
Carrie Fisher made a good point. Han Solo was one of The Force Awakens' main characters thanks to his relationships with Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren, and Luke Skywalker is being brought back into the spotlight in Star Wars: The Last Jedi later this year to train Rey in the ways of The Force on Ahch-To. So it's only fitting that Leia, the final member of the Original Trilogy trinity, would be the one who gets to be front and center for Episode IX, both because of her position in The Resistance and being Kylo Ren's mother.
As Kathleen Kennedy told Vanity Fair, Carrie Fisher's wish was going to be granted, but because of her sudden death, Kennedy, Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow and the other creative minds have understandably had to rethink the story. However, Kennedy reaffirmed in a separate Vanity Fair piece that Fisher's role in The Last Jedi remains unchanged.
Because Rogue One: A Star Wars Story used a digital recreation of Carrie Fisher from the New Hope days, there was speculation about if Star Wars: Episode IX would take the same approach to fill Fisher's absence. Lucasfilm later sent out a statement saying that there are no plans to include a CGI Leia, and Kathleen Kennedy said last month that contrary to what Fisher's brother Todd said, Episode IX will not use preexisting footage of her. It's unclear how Leia's story will be resolved before the trilogy wraps up, but no doubt many Star Wars fans would have appreciated seeing her as one of the main stars in Episode IX. For now, though, moviegoers can look forward to her continuing to lead the Resistance in its conflict against The First Order.
You can see Carrie Fisher play Leia for the final time when Star Wars: The Last Jedi comes out on December 15. Star Wars: Episode IX is scheduled for release on May 24, 2019.