• Beyond the Blast Doors

Fisher's Family: Leia was Star Wars Episode IX's payoff as the "Last Jedi"

Updated: Nov 8, 2019

The changes to the story of Star Wars Episode IX following the 2016 death of Carrie Fisher have been speculated on almost as much as the existence of Christ. First things first, the tragedy struck fans with a fierce strike to their hearts. A touching tribute to Carrie by John Williams at Star Wars Celebration 2017 seemed to perfectly capture the emotional spectrum fans laid stunned on. Our princess was gone...but as Star Wars fans have come to learn, "No one is really ever gone." Fast forward to roughly six weeks before the theatrical release of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker we are getting real understanding of the original plan for Leia thanks to her brother.

General Leia appears in the second trailer for Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker which hits theaters on December 20th, 2019

In a recent interview with Yahoo.com, Todd Fisher said the original version of Episode IX had Leia transforming into a full-fledged Jedi with her own lightsaber.

She was going to be the big payoff in the final film. She was going to be the last Jedi, so to speak. That's cool, right?

This makes sense when one reflects on previous stories of Fisher's hope for the final film. Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy once shared a story of Fisher confronting her saying Leia should be the focus of Episode IX after Han played mentor in The Force Awakens and Luke was the original trilogy star in Rian Johnson's installment.

J.J. Abrams was announced as the new director of Star Wars Episode IX on September 12th, 2017. He replaced Colin Trevorrow. Abrams reignited the franchise with his 2015 film, The Force Awakens.

J.J. Abrams has gone on record many times that unused footage from the previous two films with Fisher will be used to continue Leia's story in Episode IX. Fisher's brother says his affection for the late actress is undeniable.

The truth is that J.J. Abrams was great friends with Carrie... he had an extraordinary sense of love for her,” her brother says. It was that love that led the filmmaker to make a bold, and creatively risky decision: take unused footage of Leia left over from The Force Awakens and make it part of The Rise of Skywalker.

This statement does two things. The first might give strength to the concerns of some that Abrams emotional ties with Leia outweigh the overall story he unveils in December in theaters. Some fans do think the risk previously mentioned is too risky to attempt in this final act. In a movie promoted to include the, "War to end all wars," as John Boyega said more than a year ago, this movie shouldn't be derailed by a bad photo shop job. If Leia is in and out in the first act of the movie, how fans ease in this film could depend on her believabilty (That is a word, right).

Carrie Fisher and J.J. Abrams on the set of The Force Awakens. Abrams has been vocal from his beginnings on Star Wars of his admiration and appreciation for the late actress.

Secondly and one can make the assumption this is where the right stands, is it verifies JJ's great admiration for Carrie and his mission to include Leia in this final act of the 42-year-old Skywalker Saga. Disney and Lucasfilm have the resources to make this work. If one doesn't agree with this, they should consider what Jon Favreau has been able to do with The Lion King and Jungle Book. Innovate new methods to create flight simulation for Rogue One. There is no better house and director to attempt this movie-magic.

It was made clear by J.J., Kathleen Kennedy, and company that no other actress would play the general. Also, CGI would not be utilized to resurrect the beloved actress as was done in Rogue One with Grand Moff Willhuff Tarkin. Here's how Todd Fisher describes how Lucasfilm “reverse-engineered” resources for Leia's last return.

They had eight minutes of footage,” Fisher tells us. “They grabbed every frame and analyzed it... and then reverse-engineered it and [got] it into the story the right way. It’s kind of magical.
Carrie Fisher as Leia on the set of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. This second installment into the franchise showed the strong female co-lead beginning to develop a romance with the scoundrel Han Solo. It also revealed a deeper connect to Luke Skywalker.

It's not healthy to think, "Oh, what could have been." The fans who wanted to witness a Leia trained in the ways of the Jedi got glimpses at her ability. In The Last Jedi, Leia did something as a force push to glide back towards her ship after First Order TIE Fighters attacked the ship's deck. A scene that was cheered for it's visual spectacle and at the same time jeered for feeling like a cut from Mary Poppins.

There are some hints even in the original trilogy with her connection to Luke as he dangled in distress underneath Cloud City. * I think this is an example that Leia was force sensitive in that moment. There was a tremor in the force, which was Luke, and Leia felt it. That to me is different from a force-user because that translates as a person who has the ability to use/manipulate the force.

Fisher on the set of The Force Awakens. Carrie's Brother Todd says the character's “payoff” in Episode IX feels like his sister “talking to us all from beyond.”

There is another portion of this piece you can read for yourself. Basically, Todd Fisher talks about people asking why Carrie never got a lightsaber. They drew comparisons to her age and Alec Guinness' when he played Obi-Wan in the original trilogy. One can assume Leia was original portrayed as a political leader not a force-sensitive person. It wouldn't make sense for her to have a weapon of a religious order that was believed to be for the most part dead. In these newer movies, there hasn't been anything to suggest Leia was trained by Luke until her force fueled moment in The Last Jedi.

What do you think about this original plan for Star Wars Episode IX? Would you have wanted or been satisfied with Leia as the central focus as the "Last Jedi." Tell us what you think in comments below or tweet us at @BTBDStarWars.

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