It's a very exciting time to be a Star Wars fan. The sequel trilogy and nine-film Skywalker Saga will all come to an end with J.J. Abrams' The Rise of Skywalker. The highly anticipated blockbuster will end the franchise as we know it, so there's a ton of pressure to deliver this coming December. That includes the handling of General Leia following the unexpected death of Carrie Fisher. The late actress/writer will be included in Episode IX through unused footage, and Abrams recently spoke to that part of the film, and the "incredible" way it actually worked.
Carrie Fisher died in December of 2016, a few month after wrapping production on The Last Jedi. While her role in that movie was brought to theaters as planned, The Rise of Skywalker was going to be very much focused on Leia, with Fisher calling it "her movie". But J.J. Abrams maintains that the same story was told through the unused footage, recently saying:
There are scenes where she’s interacting with other characters in a way that is uncanny. Hopefully, if it works, it will be an invisible thing and if you didn’t know, you would never know. But we got to tell the story with Leia that we would have told had Carrie lived. And that’s kind of incredible.
The man has a point. The Rise of Skywalker is using some very clever filmmaking to tell its story, and give both Carrie Fisher and Leia Organa a proper farewell. The fact that this was an option at all seems to marvel J.J. Abrams, who hopes the efforts pay off when the blockbuster hits theaters.
J.J. Abrams' comments to Total Film are sure to excite the generations of Star Wars fans out there. Carrie Fisher's Leia is an integral part of the franchise's history, fearlessly battling the Dark Side throughout her life onscreen. She deserves to have a major role in the Skywalker Saga's final installment, leading The Resistance in the process.
Obviously The Rise of Skywalker won't have quite as much screen time for Leia as originally planned. While The Force Awakens was Han's story and The Last Jedi focused on a jaded Luke Skywalker, Episode IX was going to give Leia the spotlight. What Abrams originally had in mind remains a mystery, but it seems that Carrie Fisher's character will have a significant role in his upcoming blockbuster.
Given how tight Star Wars security is, it's unclear what that role might be. The trailers for The Rise of Skywalker show a few brief glimpses of Leia, mostly embracing Rey. But she's also got a strong relationship with Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron, who she'd been training as a protegee. We'll just have to wait and see how it all shakes out in one month's time.