The passing of an actor is always a difficult thing to deal with when it happens prior to the finish of a production. There is no cut-and-dry way to deal with it, and in the past, studios and filmmakers have taken different measures to help hide the fact that their actor was unable to complete reshoots. With the case of Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, some made changes to the script work around the footage they had shot already. In the case of Furious Seven, they utilized CG and Paul Walker’s brothers to shoot the remaining footage they needed for the film.
However, as great as those respective films turned out, neither actor had quite the iconic nature of Carrie Fisher. This was a woman who had been seen as Princess Leia for the better part forty years. This is a role that is not taken lightly by fans or by filmmakers. In the weeks after Fisher’s passing, rumors started swirling around regarding the possibility of Lucasfilm replacing her digitally. They did, after all, create a digital Leia in Rogue One, so why not with this?
Lucasfilm was quick to bat down this theory. While speaking at USC, Disney CEO Bob Iger reiterated this statement, saying:
“In Rogue One, we created digitally a few characters, one an actor that had actually passed away but had been in an earlier Star Wars film. We’re not doing that with Carrie, although technology gives the ability to do so many different things today.”
So what will these changes entail? Will they need to find some way to change her performance, or maybe they’ll just cut back her importance and change the plot around her? That seems to be a logical way to go, and with that in mind, I was personally worried they’d be forced to write her character out of the plot, thereby thwarting the original vision of the flick.
That doesn’t sound like it’s the case, based on Iger’s words:
“We’ve had to deal with tragedy this past year because Carrie Fisher passed away tragically in December, and she appears throughout [Episode] 8. What I can say about that is she is in 8 and we’re not changing 8 to deal with her passing. So her performance, which we’re really pleased with, remains as it was in 8.”
Seeing as they had already finish principal photography, it’s simply a matter of working with what they have, which seems well within the realm of possibility. That’s al comforting to hear, but it does raise several questions in my own head regarding Episode IX.
Will Leia be present in that film, or will they write around her character so she does not? If so, will that actually make sense in context of the plot? If Leia is involved in Episode IX as originally written, does it do the franchise any service to write her out? If the original vision of the story was to have her have a pivotal in the story, I think, as heartbreaking as it is, she should be recast. I'd much rather see the story as intended than get something different than was originally intended.
But that’s just this writer’s opinion. What’s yours. What would you do in this scenario? Can Carrie Fisher ever be replaced as Princess Leia? Let us know in the comments down below!