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When the cast list for Star Wars: Episode IX was announced last week, we finally received the answer to the General Leia Organa question that we have been wondering since the tragic passing of Carrie Fisher. Choosing not to use CGI or recast the role of the character who was still alive at the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the film will instead incorporate unused footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens to conclude her story. But J.J. Abrams actually has more to work with than just the unused footage from Episode VII. ABC News' Clayton Sandell revealed that Episode IX will also be using footage from The Last Jedi, as he explained:
I talked to Todd Fisher today about all of this and he has been talking with J. J. Abrams about it. I asked him, because the press release said they were using unused footage from The Force Awakens. And I asked about The Last Jedi, and he told me that they are also using unused footage from The Last Jedi... And I said, 'Well how many minutes do they have of this stuff,' and he said, 'I can't tell you that!'
I've actually been wondering since the announcement that unused Carrie Fisher footage from The Force Awakens would be used in Episode IX why The Last Jedi wasn't mentioned and if there just wasn't really anything extra to work with on that front. Speaking to Star Wars News Net's The Resistance Broadcast podcast, Clayton Sandell allayed those concerns and lets us know that Carrie Fisher's brother, Todd Fisher, told him that J.J. Abrams will be pulling from two movies worth of extra footage featuring the actress. That said, exactly how many minutes of footage they have from both films is a mystery. It may not be a lot, but every little bit counts ,and any extra footage makes it easier for J.J. Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio to give Leia a story.
How much material with Carrie Fisher they have depends on how much J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson shot for their respective films that didn't make the cut and how much coverage they have. There could be a lot of footage or a little, but what this news does tell us is that J.J. Abrams will be pulling from all the sources available to include Carrie Fisher in this movie and craft a fitting end to the Skywalker saga that includes having Leia onscreen. Todd Fisher also told Clayton Sandell that there are big surprises coming in the unused footage, so that makes it sound like Leia could have a meatier, or at least more important role than we might imagine given that they only have a limited amount to work with for Episode IX.
Using a CGI character or recasting Princess Leia always seemed like two bad options for Episode IX, but they could have killed her off in the opening crawl as a way to acknowledge her absence. Carrie Fisher's character was expected to have a bigger role in Episode IX prior to her passing, so at least this way she will still get to be in this movie. The fact that J.J. Abrams & Co. think that they have enough footage to tell a story where she plays a part and gets a proper sendoff is encouraging.