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– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Late last year, the amazing Carrie Fisher passed away. This was a real knife into the gut of Star Wars fans worldwide. For decades, she’d won the hearts of audiences as the charismatic and influential Princess Leia. Generations fell in love with her, and in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Fisher reprised her role as the now-General Leia.

Following Fisher’s passing, there were a lot of questions surrounding how Lucasfilm should handle it going forward, as she has a key role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and if she survives, it could pose a problem in the future. Should they recreate her with CG, should they write her out completely, or should they recast her?

Ultimately, Lucasfilm settled on writing her out of the series, out of respect for her and her family, and while I’d hate to be disrespectful of that approach, I think it was a big mistake.

In my opinion, they should have recast her.

While the knee-jerk reaction would be to reject this idea, hear me out. The filmmakers for Episode IX already had a story in mind, and in that story, Leia likely played a role, as evidenced by the following statement from Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy:

“Obviously, with Carrie having passed away, it shook everybody. We pretty much started over.”

Luckily, with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, she had already shot her part, so there was no need to change it, but it was obvious that something would need to be done regarding Episode IX. Lucasfilm had already rejected the idea of recreating Leia with CG, as they did in Rogue One. This was out of respect for Fisher herself and her family. With that in mind, recasting her also seemed to be out of the picture.

At this point, it now becomes a question of importance. What is more important: retaining the integrity of the planned story, or retaining continuity of Princess Leia?

Obviously, fans have grown used to Carrie Fisher playing the character, so there’s a tendency to skew towards the latter. Only one person can play Leia, and that’s Carrie Fisher, right?

RELATED: A Management Shake-Up Is Needed At Lucasfilm

I personally believe that the integrity of her character and the story she is servicing is more important. Now, I mean no disrespect to Fisher or her family, but I’d much rather have Star Wars send her off as they intended than have her just disappear from the story altogether, never to be seen again.

This, I believe, serves more of a disservice to the character than allowing her to complete her arc with a different actor. Hiring another actor to take the baton the last 100 meters is something that would admittedly feel strange, but when all said and done, would allow Lucasfilm to tell the story as initially intended, and would allow both the story and character to retain their integrity. Plus, nowhere would we feel like they were pulling back on her, and nowhere would we feel that there’s a lapse in logic in terms of when her character should be involved in the plot.

Of course, that’s not to say that fans who look at Fisher’s interpretation of the character as paramount are wrong. Everyone will weigh these two aspects differently. However, as a storyteller and a story consumer, to me the story is the most important aspect. So while I understand the move from Lucasfilm, and I understand the desire fans have for only Fisher to play Leia, but when all said and done, I believe going forward with another actress would have been the best move for Star Wars.

But that’s only my opinion. What’s yours? Do you think Lucasfilm should have made the right choice, or do you agree with me? Let us know down below!

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  • Jeffrey Weinerslave

    Kate Mulgrew could have been great, but it ain’t gonna happen now.

    • Kindofabigdeal

      Why? So she could sit around and drink coffee and make the Resistance do stupid things.

      • Jeffrey Weinerslave

        Isn’t that what George Lucas used to do?

  • echohello

    I believe it is a disservice all up by just making her disappear like she did not exist. But I’m against a recast. It’s her role and assuming she’s signed away her likeness, I wish they would just recreate her digitally.

    I’m hoping this new shake-up will allow this to happen… but if it doesn’t, they better write a companion book that explores what we didn’t see.

    • Kindofabigdeal

      I am pretty sure they will acknowledge her. If not in the story then in the title crawl. Maybe even begin with her funeral which is what makes Luke come out of hiding.

      • Jeedai Infidel

        I like that idea, a lot.

      • Joseph Jammer Medina

        Killing her offscreen would be the ultimate disservice to the character.

        • Alejo Contreras

          Sadly, that’s what is going to happen…. there were rumors about her getting badly injured (and coming back) well… now, you know.

          Kylo Ren will kill both of their parents!

  • Andrea Banks

    Hmmm

  • TFCB

    Already tried it with Matrix: Revolutions. Though, not as iconic and beloved as Princess Leia, recasting the Oracle for the third Matrix caused the audience to either be confused or roll their eyes into the back of their skull when they tried to acknowledge the change in actors by adding it into he narrative. If they tried this move, with or without explanation in the actual story, I think the masses would harp down hard on Star Wars 9. Writing her out is probably the best choice, unless it was going to turn out she was Emperor Snoke, then this series is FUBAR.

    • Kindofabigdeal

      “I know this isn’t the way you remember me. But it’s the will of the Force, so let’s just move on.”

  • axebox

    I have a feeling the story wasn’t that great to begin with. Maybe this was the rug pull that the series needed to get a creative story out of it.

    • randomironicname

      I’m guessing most of the hang up would be that she had to play a big role in trying to bring Kylo Ren back to the light.

  • Kronx

    It’s one of those things we won’t be able to really get a handle on until 9 is out and we know what was intended.

  • Moby85

    I’ll back up Jammer on this. Star Wars has re-casted before, notably Chewbecca in episode 7 where Peter Mayhew due to his knees could only do select scenes. And that guy, a Finnish basketball player, I thought nailed Chewie’s mannerisms (apparently he was personally tutored by Mayhew). And look at the result? We get Chewie probably for another 20+ years in Star Wars films.

    Ultimately I think you could have gone with a distinguished actor, such as Cate Blanchett or Helen Mirren and try to make it work. At least you’d have the original script. Because, yeah, things don’t look too great over at LucasFilm right now.

    • Kindofabigdeal

      There is a difference between someone who is walking around in a giant suit to someone who’s face and voice we have seen for years. I’m pretty sure there would have been a huge backlash if they recasted. I’m pretty sure R2 will continue as well.

      • That’s a fair point, and this is where LucasFilm needs to think hard about either telling new stories or turning Star Wars into James Bond, wherein the characters never age (they just get re-cast). I prefer the former, but that means we’re about to say goodbye to Luke, Leia, and Han forever (or at least until someone at LucasFilm decides to reboot Star Wars after Episode IX… I wouldn’t put that past them either).

        Fox is about to deal with this question regards to Wolverine — and you just know they desperately want to re-cast that character in X-Force.

      • Moby85

        Fair.

  • Moby85

    I hope you’re hoarding your slave Leia figures. Disney is discontinuing them…

    • Kindofabigdeal

      Disney must not like money. They should have did the opposite and released all of the Disney Princesses in Slave Leia outfits.

  • noahwayne0

    My hot take – Leia was overrated. I don’t think she is as integral to Star Wars as others think. Luke, Vader, Han, Obi Wan, and Yoda are the critical characters to Star Wars.

    Let the character go.

    • KRUSGHROOVE OG

      Except that people working on the movie have said that in Episode 9…it was suppose to be “Leia’s movie” and now they had to do major rewrites.. so we won’t be getting the original story as planned.

  • Storymark

    Agreed. It would have been jarring to accept a new actress in the role, but people adjust quickly, and it could have been a tribute to what Fisher had done.

  • Kindofabigdeal

    Sometimes I think these articles are made just to make us come in and argue.
    Ok, Leia should not be recast. That role was hers. It’s bad enough we have to tolerate that dweeb as a young Han. There were plenty of people up in arms with that. I don’t care how much better of an actress you would get, it still wouldn’t be the same Leia. Now I wouldn’t mind casting someone similar to Leia to do the things she was supposed to. Maybe a fellow Senator who had escaped the blast and was secretly in contact with the Resistance. I think studios who want to do this big out multi year/film franchises should have back up plans for their older actors just in case.
    Anyways that’s just what I think. I can’t believe some of you would want that. But I guess it’s why we are all here. We have differing opinions and want an outlet to share.
    Just please, don’t give Kennedy anymore ideas. She has enough to fix as it is.

    • But you like to argue, right? Speaking for myself (Jammer doesn’t need my help) I never presume to know what our community thinks. Instead, I write what I think and throw it out there for a response (with the hope of sparking a good discussion). So, I really appreciate your response and willingness to engage!

    • Alejo Contreras

      I think this is what is going to happen with Laura Dern’s character…

  • the50sguystrikesback

    Believe it or not Jammer…I agree with you.

    It was said that Episode IX was to be LEIA’s movie and if that story line ‘gels’ with the end of ‘The Last Jedi’….I say they should have pushed forward.

    Replacing a key character (whether for a scene or a full movie) has been done before (i.e. Michael Gambon replaced Richard Harris and Cody Walker replace his brother Paul via CGI )

    And…not JUST due to the passing of a previous actor (i.e. Maria Bello replaced Rachel Weisz and Maggie Gyllenhaal replaced Katie Holmes)

    Now granted… I’m not comparing Dumbledore, Brian O’Conner, Evy O’Connell and Rachel Dawes to PRINCESS LEIA, but it could have been done is all I’m saying and I don’t think the family or the fans would have found it disrespectful. (ijs)

    • Joseph Jammer Medina

      whaaaaat?! 😉

  • Fallout Boy!

    She was already digital…
    Judy make her old and DO YOUR JOBS AS STORYTELLERS
    Too much hemming and hawing and boo-hooing…I swear to God they make everything more difficult…

  • Victor Roa

    there’s are three problems I see….. one is ever since day one, Liea has been and always will be fighting. And two we never see REAL Carrie Fisher in these films. The whole self deprecating crude jokes, correcting grammar, and of course Gary Fisher.
    ….. this is the reason why Lucas left “You killed my childhood.” So far the Kennedy Reign no one has said that as agressively since “Midicholrians” was announced, but really they are riding that nostalgia train so far

  • Wild Dreams

    I get why ppl may not have wanted her recast….familiarity,nostalgia etc, But ask yourself this, would you rather just have her disappear from the story having been killed off screen or just randomly turn up missing for no logical reason when you know good and well her character would be one of the main parts of the story otherwise…or could you tolerate a new actor to give the character closure for just one episode ? I can’t help but feel whatever it is they have planned is either going to be stupid or extremely awkward, so with all due respect I agree, they should’ve recast.

  • Honestly… CG the hell out of her. They did it with Tarkin and it worked. They did it with young Leia and it worked, why not protect her legacy, her character and the entire story you intended to make and just find a double exactly her size, an actor who can mimick her voice perfectly and work as hard as you can to bring her back to life and give her the closure and performance she deserved.

    Everyone coming together to fulfil and create her likeness with meticulous love and care to ensure that her characters arc is complete… That would be a beautiful and touching endeavour. What better way to honour her memory.

    Don’t recast her, don’t forget her, don’t write her out or ignore her, don’t change the story to omit her. Leave her there and work tirelessly to honour her and everything she gave us by literally painting her in the best light with all of the tools and technology at our disposal.

    • Moby85

      Yeah Tarkin’s CGI didn’t bug me either. What bugged me is how they used Vader so little to put in Tarkin more. I missed me my Vader.

  • ScreamFace

    I don’t think we can decide either way until we see TLJ. Even then, maybe not until we see ep 9. There is so much we just do not know.

    For all we know, Leia may die in TLJ. Or they have a really nice send off for her character. So writing her out isn’t that big a deal or a disservice to her character. It might come some what naturally.

    Maybe they even have a scene they can carry over to ep 9 for her to send her off.

    It’s going to be weird if she’s just gone. Or the crawl in Ep 9 says she died between films.

    To be honest though, I don’t for a second think Lucasfilm would not recast or not CGI her unless it wasn’t going to be a big hurdle story wise. They came out pretty quickly after he death and ruled her out of Ep 9. So to cynical old me, they had an easy out for her character with what ever happens in TLJ.

    Was there ever any talk of some additional footage done for TLJ revolving around that?

  • SaiyanHeretic

    Take heart in the knowledge that the Original Trilogy we all love was never planned out. Sure, Lucas may have had a general idea of where to go with future installments, but Empire didn’t exist until after Star Wars came out, and the same goes for Jedi. It’s sad that Fisher passed away, and no, Episode IX may not get to be what they originally intended, but then, what movie does? Now they can pour all this emotion into the new script and it may turn out even better than before. That, my friends, is called “art.”

  • Sigrid Halvorssen

    No, and you’re an idiot for suggesting it.

    • Joseph Jammer Medina

      I’m glad you brought a lot of insight to the table with your comment.

  • Brett

    Just work her death into the story. Just have her pass away in her sleep. Maybe, Han’s death had a toll on her. Many spouses die shortly after their significant other passes. One that comes to mind is Johnny Cash. Leia’s death doesn’t have to be due to some sort of tragic accident in the story. After her death is announced, have a state funeral and then have a new general appointed. Then continue with the Star Wars story. Don’t CGI her or recast her. Be real with it. Life throws everyone curve balls… let it reflect it in this story.

  • Until we see Ep8 and understand what her role is in this trilogy, nobody can say if recasting is a good idea.

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.