The death of Carrie Fisher in December, 2016, was utterly heartbreaking for movie fans across the world.
But while they got to see the beloved actress in action a year later in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the fact that General Leia Organa spent most of the blockbuster in a coma meant that appearance felt a little bittersweet.
Especially because, it had long been teased that The Force Awakens would revolve around Harrison Ford’s Han Solo, The Last Jedi would be about Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker, and Star Wars 9 would be about Leia.
However, its writer and director J.J. Abrams has always insisted that Leia would be incorporated into Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker thanks to deleted scenes from The Force Awakens. That’s exactly what has happened, and despite only having limited footage, Abrams recently told Cinemablend that her character’s presence is still as profound and significant as Ford and Hamill’s previous performances.
“Clearly we would have done other things had Carrie, been around,” Abrams explained. “But I will say despite her not being with us anymore, her presence in the movie is not inconsequential. She's not being 'added in' so that she's in the movie. And I would say that her story, her role, the importance of Leia, I would argue is as profound as what you're saying even though she wasn't here.”
Abrams admits that it did take some time to figure out how to include Leia in the film in the absence of Fisher, as they didn’t “want to start the story and say something happened to her” in between The Last Jedi and The Rise Of Skywalker. He also didn’t want to recast the role or use visual effects to recreate her.
It was only when he looked at the unused footage from The Force Awakens that Abrams discovered he “had a number of scenes” he could write around so he “could tell the story with Leia in the film.”
But while Abrams is grateful for what he achieved with this material, he openly admits, “I would have loved to have done other things” with Fisher in The Rise Of Skywalker, too.