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In a little over a week, we will get to see Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia on the big screen for the final time in the Star Wars universe. The weight of what appears to be an emotional film is made all the heavier by this knowledge. The loss of a human being before her time, leaving behind friends and family, takes precedence over any concerns about how this affects Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But Carrie Fisher's passing does have a huge impact in the universe, and while she filmed all of her scenes for The Last Jedi, she was not entirely finished working on the film. She still had ADR work, where the actors re-record their dialogue in studio, to complete. This provided something of a challenge as director Rian Johnson explained:
We had to do a lot of sound work and that was kind of tough, but we managed. We have a great sound team and we managed to pull her dialogue out and find little snippets from here and there and make it work. You do what you've gotta do.
While not an ideal situation by any stretch, based on his comments to Rolling Stone, it sounds like Rian Johnson and his team made the final product work. We know that Carrie Fisher was involved in the script and that Princess Leia's story in The Last Jedi has not been changed in the wake of her death. Even though some of her dialogue may be spliced together from separate clips, you'll still be hearing Carrie Fisher. It is a small bit of comfort to know that Lucasfilm took on this challenge to give us as much of Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia as possible for her final appearance. This is somewhat reminiscent of the sound wizardry used in The Force Awakens. In that film after touching Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber and having a vision, Rey hears "Rey, these are your first steps." Thanks to a clever bit of sound editing, this sentence featured the voices of both Ewan McGregor and Alec Guinness.
While Princess Leia is all Carrie Fisher in The Last Jedi, the future is far less certain. Carrie Fisher's unfortunate passing last year raised a ton of questions about how Star Wars moves forward given that Episode IX was intended to be Leia-centric. There have been discussions of using a CGI Leia like in Rogue One but those have been refuted. Recasting the role seems unlikely but if The Last Jedi's story was unchanged by Carrie Fisher's death and her character survives the film, her absence in Episode IX may prove more distracting than either of these imperfect options. That better be a hell of an opening crawl.
Despite the technical and emotional challenges of Carrie Fisher's death, we have heard that The Last Jedi will honor her and act as a good sendoff for the character of Princess Leia. Thankfully, we don't have to wait long to find out if that's true. Star Wars: The Last Jedi blasts into theaters on December 15th. You can pre-order your tickets for opening weekend now.