DEADLINE – J.J. Abrams explained to D23 attendees today, how the late Carrie Fisher will be included in the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
“The character of Leia is really, in a way, the heart of this story. When we were talking about this story we realized we could not possibly tell the end of these nine films without Leia,” Abrams said during the gathering in Anaheim.
Fisher died in December 2016 at age 60, after suffering a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles.
Abrams revealed he still had unused footage of the beloved actress from The Force Awakens, and decided to use it in the finale of the original Skywalker saga.
“We realized we could use [it] in a new way so Carrie, as Leia, gets to be in the film,” he said.
Abrams noted that he wasn’t originally intended to direct the final film, but was inspired by something Fisher wrote about the future Star Wars project in her book The Princess Diarist, before she passed away.
“She was almost sort of supernaturally witty and magical in a way,” Abrams said.
He went on to recall that Fisher penned: “‘And special thanks to J.J. Abrams for putting up with me twice.’ Now, I had never worked with her before The Force Awakens and I wasn’t supposed to do this movie, so it was a classic Carrie thing to sort of write something like that and it could only mean one thing for me. And I could not be more excited to have you see her in her final performance.”
At D23, Abrams was joined by Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and nine stars from the film, including Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran and Billy Dee Williams, plus special appearances from R2-D2, BB-8 and the new droid D-O.
The movie’s official poster was also unveiled, and shows Rey and Kylo Ren facing off against the backdrop of an ominous electrical storm.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens domestically on Dec. 20, 2019.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY – Carrie Fisher may be gone but her legacy lives on with Princess-turned-General Leia in the Star Wars films.
When sitting down in the EW and PEOPLE video studio at the D23 fan expo in Anaheim, Calif. on Saturday, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams and LucasFilm head Kathleen Kennedy discussed how they were going to handle the late Fisher’s role in the upcoming conclusion to the latest trilogy.
“There was a huge sense of responsibility,” Kennedy says. “We spent a lot of time talking about what do we want to feel? First of all, Leia. That was a really, really complicated conversation but we knew that she was such an important character to the story.”
And Abrams adds, “It just felt wrong to say that she wasn’t around, to say that she had gone somewhere, to say that she had passed away in between, it just felt like there was no way to end this story. She’s such an integral part of it.”
“Finding the end to this in an emotional way was paramount,” Kennedy says. During the D23 panel, Abrams revealed that “we realized that we had footage from Episode VII that we realized we could use in a new way. So Carrie, as Leia, gets to be in the film.”
When it came to figuring out the ending to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Abrams knew had a monumental endeavor on his hands. Not only does this film end the most recent Star Wars trilogy, but it also promises to conclude the nine-film saga that began with 1977’s A New Hope.
“It’s not just the end of three movies; it’s the end of nine movies, three trilogies,” Abrams says. “So the story needed to end emotionally, it needed to end with scale but with intimacy. It was a bit of a juggling on a tightrope act. But it was really important to us that we tell a story that makes people feel and where there’s a sense if you’re a kid watching all nine movies years from now, you see this beginning, middle, and end and you feel like it was all coming to this.”
Check out our full interview with Abrams and Kennedy above.
Before Abrams and Kennedy sat down with EW and People, they debuted a new poster at D23 showing Rey (Daisy Ridley) facing off against Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), as well as an epic sizzle reel that is expected to be released online Monday, representing the first new footage of the film since the teaser trailer was released in April.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is set for release Dec. 20, 2019.
Fisher’s kindness to others with bipolar disorder was one of the striking things I learned about ‘Princess Leia’ in researching her life for my book.
USA TODAY – Early in 2004, entrepreneur Joanne Doan had just gotten funding for a serious niche magazine. Called bpHope, it would be tailored to the more than 6 million Americans with bipolar disorder, which, until 1980, was called manic depression. In a fit of hubris, Doan contacted Carrie Fisher — famous of course as an actor, writer and charismatic personality. Since Fisher had gone public with her diagnosis of bipolar I (the more serious form) four years earlier, Doan asked her the long-shot question: Would she pose for the cover and give a lengthy interview to a magazine that didn’t exist yet?
“`Yes!’’ Carrie said, and “without hesitation,’’ Doan told me. She was happily stunned: “Carrie Fisher on the cover got us advertising we never would have gotten otherwise. I don’t know what we would have done without her.’’
Carrie’s candor in three interviews for the magazine “inspired our community to be able to … go out there and live fulfilling lives,” Doan said.“She took the stigma against bipolar disorder and kicked it to the curb.’’
Kind and encouraging to bipolar fans
Carrie’s significance in encouraging people who are bipolar to get over their shame, and her kindness to others in the community, were among the most striking things I learned in researching her life for my forthcoming book, “Carrie Fisher: A Life On the Edge.”
In 2000, she told Diane Sawyer about the severe psychotic break she had suffered. She had actually written the word “shame” instead of her name on a hospital form, Now, she said, looking into Sawyer’s eyes, “I am mentally ill. I can say that.”
Even at “Star Wars” events, she spoke of her illness and “made extra time, long after she was supposed to leave, talking to fans who were also bipolar,” said David Zentz, a nuclear worker and “Star Wars” fanatic who saw her at more than three dozen events over the years.
Carrie was a way-paver, especially with women. The only female celebrity who had comprehensively admitted her bipolarity before Carrie did was the former child actress Patty Duke, who in 1992 had published a memoir called “A Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic-Depressive Illness.”
But, as Princess Leia and an icon to her peer group, Carrie’s influence was stronger.
Media shaming for bipolar women
Even though there’s the same personal shame for men as for women in being bipolar, women bipolars are media shamed far more than men are. After Carrie’s forthright declaration of her mental illness to Sawyer, it would be four more years before Jane Pauley dared write about her bipolarity, more than a decade before Catherine Zeta-Jonesrevealed hers and Demi Lovato admitted that she had been diagnosed, and nearly 18 years before Mariah Carey did.
Mental illness is agonizing, and bipolar disorder has its own form of agony. Carrie once described her manic periods to the Los Angeles Times as “feeling like my mind’s been having a party all night long and I’m the last person to arrive and now I have to clean up the mess.”
And being female can make things harder: Women are often diagnosed as merely “the worried well” until it’s too late to get the most effective treatment. And because of female hormonal changes, the arc from premenstrual to menopausal, women often have to change their medication frequently. Also, virtually all medication for bipolar — including the mainstay, lithium — involves weight gain, a particularly sensitive issue for women.
Credit for pushing the truth
At the end of her life, the usually snarky and tough Carrie Fisher admitted to being deeply hurt by the weight-shaming she received on the internet, and much of her weight gain had to do with her medication. Bipolarity is not “unlike a tour of duty in Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside),” she wrote in her book “Wishful Drinking.” And she believed that pride, not shame, should come from being a warrior in that battle.
One of the most important things Carrie did, says Stephen Fried, an author who specializes in the subject, is to make the point that just because a person’s symptoms are gone for a while, they are not gone for good — they will return. The public often misunderstands the chronic nature of mental illness and gets wrongly judgmental with what they misconstrue as relapse caused by an undisciplined person rather than the sheer tenacity of the disease.
“Carrie Fisher was always in people’s faces about her mental illness,” Fried said, admiringly. “She let you know that even when she seemed fine, she wasn’t. She deserves a lot of credit for pushing that truth’’ and humanizing the disease.
“I am mentally ill. I can say that.” Those were blunt, powerful words from an unusually honest and very helpful woman.
Sheila Weller is the author of “Carrie Fisher: A Life on the Edge,” to be published Nov. 12, from which parts of this column are drawn. Her earlier books include the 2008 “Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon — And the Journey of a Generation.” Find her on Facebook here.
I never know what to say to mark this day. On one hand, its such a sad day for most of us because we miss Carrie. But on the other hand, we should celebrate her life. So like her daughter, Billie Lourd, I’m going to use music to remember her by.
I miss you Carrie.
Today would be Carrie’s 62nd birthday. I will never forget her wit and wisdom. She showed us that we could live with our traumas and our mental illnesses. She made us laugh and inspired us with her strength. She is missed terribly.
MENTAL FLOSS – Although both Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford have their own stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, their former Star Wars co-star, Carrie Fisher, did not get a chance to receive the honor before she passed away in 2016.
Now, Hamill is rallying for Fisher to get a posthumous star, and is asking fans via social media to help out.
On October 8, the Luke Skywalker actor responded to a fan on Twitter asking who to contact to get the late Leia Organa actress a star on the prestigious street.
Carrie WILL get her well-deserved Star on the Walk of Fame, it’s only a matter of when. The rule is a 5-year wait when awarded posthumously. A letter to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce wouldn’t hurt, urging them to time it to the release of #EpIX⭐️#AlwaysWithUs pic.twitter.com/CVMX1csDwJ
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) October 9, 2018
Fisher died on December 27, 2016 at the age of 60. Just days after her passing, a fan created their own Hollywood star for the actress, which read, “Carrie Fisher. May the Force be with you always. Hope.”
Hamill received his star this past March, and at the ceremony, he and Ford spoke of Fisher’s legacy and how much they missed her.
Many fans have replied to Hamill’s tweet, agreeing to write letters and expressing their shock that Fisher doesn’t have a star already.
We’ll be able to see Fisher again in Star Wars: Episode IX, as director J.J. Abrams has decided to include unused footage of her from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi in the film. The next installment hits theaters December 20, 2019.
ESQUIRE – In her memoir released shortly before her death in late 2016, Carrie Fisher wrote, “I’m sorry it’s not Mark [Hamill] — it could have been. It should have been. It might’ve meant something. Maybe not much, but certainly more,” she said of her relationship with her Star Wars co-star. Of course, as we know, she didn’t have a relationship with Hamill because during the filming of the movies, she’d had an affair with Harrison Ford, who at the time was married and in his late 30s.
In a long-lost documentary about the making of Empire Strikes Back that was recently discovered and published on YouTube, Fisher, Hamill, and Ford discuss their on-screen love triangle. What’s funny, is given the context of what we know now about their personal lives, it’s hard not to detect the actors projecting a bit of themselves into the plot.
“She’s the princess after all and I’m an opportunist, but it develops into a love story as it were,” Ford says of the section of the film where Leia and Solo go off on their own in the Millennium Falcon.
But, Hamill thinks if he’d has his chance alone with the princess, he’d have ended up with her: “Give me three weeks with her in hyperspace and I might make a few points. I’m so burned about that,” Hamill says in the doc.
“Poor kid, it’s quite shocking, he’s of course fond of the princess himself,” Ford says.
Fisher had the most astute analysis of the Solo, Skywalker, Organa relationship.
“It starts out as a love triangle and then I’m thrown together with Han Solo,” Fisher says. “It ends up being one of those relationships like Tracy and Hepburn where we scream at each other for the first half of the film and then we end up liking each other.”
They’re all giggling through the interviews, of course, and it’s really very sweet. The rest of the doc focuses on how the crew created the special effects for the battle of Hoth, which took an insane amount of effort in the days before CGI.
This is one of the most special documentary ever. I’m so glad they filmed this prior to their deaths although watching it was very hard.
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