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Warning: MASSIVE spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Don't read any further if you have not seen the latest Star Wars movie yet!
It's no secret that Carrie Fisher's passing prevented her from getting to see a final cut of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The tragic loss adds to the weight of her scenes, but it also raises questions about the character's role in the Star Wars franchise as a whole. As it turns out, her passing forced director Rian Johnson to have a serious discussion about how to move forward with his Star Wars film, and the impact his decisions would have on Star Wars: Episode IX. Johnson recently sat down with CinemaBlend's Eric Eisenberg to explain that he didn't want to get rid of her best scenes to force a conclusion into place, explaining:
I had this conversation with Kathy [Kennedy] after I came back, after New Years, after she'd passed away. And I looked through the scenes in the movie, and talked with Kathy. The thing is, it was briefly a question of 'God, do we try and manufacture something to give her an ending in this movie?' I decided, I came down strongly against that. Because I felt like, first of all, there was no way to do that without losing maybe her scene with Luke, or her scene with Rey at the end, or her scene with Holdo. ... Any of the beautiful scenes in the movie, to lose -- and also, then, it would be manufactured. It wouldn't be great, I think.
There are certainly a few moments in Star Wars: The Last Jedi that could've been retrofitted to serve as finales for Leia Organa's character arc. Between her "death" on the bridge of the ship and Amilyn Holdo's moment of sacrifice, there are scenes in the film that could've provided an appropriate finale for the beloved character. However, Rian Johnson and Kathleen Kennedy decided that they didn't want to remove Leia's best scenes from later in the film, so they instead opted to proceed according to the original plan and keep Leia alive going into Episode IX.
Beyond the fact that it would compromise the rest of the film to make up an artificial ending for Leia, Rian Johnson also continued in his conversation with CinemaBlend and explained that it merely made perfect thematic sense to give her a final hopeful speech to lead into Episode VIII's credits. Johnson continued:
So, my stance was, 'This is a beautiful performance from her, I want to have on screen those moments that we see from her. I feel like that's really important.' And the fact that the last word in the movie, one of the the last words in the movie are hers, and they're words of hope, I want to have that from Carrie Fisher right now. I know JJ will find a way -- it's a difficult task -- but I know he'll find a way to bring it home in a way that will feel right. But I feel like I'm happy we have what we have from her in this movie. I wanted people to have it, too.