WASHINGTON POST – This was supposed to be Carrie Fisher’s movie — her center spotlight after the previous two films in Disney’s modern Star Wars trilogy successively featured Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill, her castmates across four decades.
“It’s nothing short of heartbreaking that she wasn’t here to collaborate on this film, because we couldn’t possibly tell the story without her,” J.J. Abrams says of directing “The Rise of Skywalker” without Fisher, who died three years ago this month.
Ever since her death, those creatively involved with the Skywalker Saga — which seemingly concludes with the opening of “Rise” this weekend — have tried to honor Fisher’s memory while also wrestling with how to present her iconic character, Leia Organa, on screen.
The starkest misstep since was a digital motion-capture representation of a young Leia briefly in the one-off film “Rogue One” — an eerie effect that many fans thought fell squarely into the “uncanny valley.”
Lucasfilm announced last year that Fisher would appear in “Rise,” but assuaged fans about how the posthumous “performance” would be handled.
“We would never consider recasting,” Abrams said this month, speaking by phone from the L.A. area. “And we wouldn’t want to do a digital character.”
The late actress left the director an uncanny message in her autobiography.
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER – It sure sounds like Carrie Fisher knew something no one else did at the time.
J.J. Abrams on Monday dropped by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and talked about his upcoming Star Wars film, The Rise of Skywalker, and an uncanny message the late actress left to him that he now understands.
While talking about how much he missed Fisher, who died in 2016 at the age of 60, Abrams recalled working with her on his first Star Wars film, The Force Awakens.
It is common knowledge now that Princess Leia appears in the new film via unused Force Awakens footage, but obviously, no one knew that would be the case at the time of that film’s release. What’s more, no one could have known Abrams would return to direct Skywalker — that is except maybe Fisher.
“I wasn’t supposed to work on this film,” Abrams begins. “She passed away before Last Jedi was released. She wrote this autobiography, The Princess Diarist, and I remember reading in the end, a ‘special thanks to J.J, Abrams for putting up with me twice.’ I had never worked with her before Force Awakens and I wasn’t supposed to direct Episode IX. It was a very Carrie thing to write something like that and to somehow know. It was really strange.”
Abrams also told Colbert that The Rise of Skywalker was completed Sunday.
The Disney film is due in theaters Dec. 20.
Watch the segment below.
Now, it’s official: Star Wars fans will have one final chance to say goodbye to Carrie Fisher, with Lucasfilm announcing that the actress, who died in December 2016, will appear in next year’s Star Wars: Episode IX.
In a statement, director J.J. Abrams sought to put concerns about potential CGI resurrections to rest, saying that the new movie will use “unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII” and assuring fans that “we were never going to recast, or use a CG character.” While this is, undoubtedly, comforting, it would also appear to offer particular clues about the role Fisher — or, more specifically, her character, Leia Organa — will play in the movie.
Firstly: Purely for practical purposes, Leia’s presence in the movie will be small. If nothing else, there can’t be that much extraneous, unseen footage from 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens; she was barely in that movie, so unless large swaths of scenes were shot but never even hinted at by anyone involved in the production, there’s limited material to draw from in the first place, and surely not everything available will be used.
Considering the context of the footage, it also limits the potential use for Episode IX. Leia appeared in few scenes and locations in The Force Awakens. Leia was on Takodana, rescuing Han, Chewbacca, Rey and Finn, and then at the Resistance base on D’Qar, where she takes part in planning, and later monitoring, the attack on Starkiller Base. Aside from brief interludes with Han and, later, Rey, she’s very much in “harried leader” mode throughout the movie. Does this mean that this is the Leia we’ll see in Episode IX, even after losing her ex-husband, and then her brother, in the previous two movies?
STARWARS.COM – Star Wars: Episode IX will begin filming at London’s Pinewood Studios on August 1, 2018. J.J. Abrams returns to direct the final installment of the Skywalker saga. Abrams co-wrote the screenplay with Chris Terrio.
Returning cast members include Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd. Joining the cast of Episode IX are Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant, and Keri Russell, who will be joined by veteran Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams, who will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian.
The role of Leia Organa will once again be played by Carrie Fisher, using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” says Abrams. “Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us. We were never going to recast, or use a CG character. With the support and blessing from her daughter, Billie, we have found a way to honor Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII.”
Composer John Williams, who has scored every chapter in the Star Wars saga since 1977’s A New Hope, will return to a galaxy far, far away with Episode IX.
Star Wars: Episode IX will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Michelle Rejwan, and executive produced by Callum Greene and Jason McGatlin. The crew includes Dan Mindel (Director of Photography), Rick Carter and Kevin Jenkins (Co-Production Designers), Michael Kaplan (Costume Designer), Neal Scanlan (Creature and Droid FX), Maryann Brandon and Stefan Grube (Editors), Roger Guyett (VFX Supervisor), Tommy Gormley (1st AD), and Victoria Mahoney (2nd Unit Director).
Release is scheduled for December 2019.