For fans of Star Wars and the late, great Carrie Fisher, it looked like The Last Jedi was going to contain more sorrow than we could bear.
The Last Jedi is the last film Fisher shot before her untimely death in December — and Lucasfilm president Kathy Kennedy made it clear in April that Fisher would not be resurrected in any way for the sequel, still known only as Episode IX. Originally, she was intended for a large role in that later film.
So did that mean General Leia Organa — to us, she’s royalty — would be killed off somehow in The Last Jedi? Now at last we have an answer, if director Rian Johnson speaks true.
“We don’t adjust what happens to her in this movie,” Johnson told the New York Times in an interview published Wednesday. “She gives a beautiful and complete performance in this film.”
Johnson described the harrowing emotional experience of going through the footage he’d shot with Fisher back in January, and how much of it was given emotional resonance by her absence.
“Emotionally, you can’t help recontextualize it, now that she’s gone,” the director added, but insisted: “I felt very strongly that we don’t try to change her performance.”
So if Leia’s death hasn’t been hastily written into The Last Jedi, how will the series deal with her absence in Episode IX?
That we still don’t know, but one possibility is that the series may simply not kill Leia off at all — just send her into a nice long galactic retirement.
If Luke Skywalker can quit being a Jedi, which is what he seems to have done in his self-imposed isolation on the planet Ahch-to, then maybe Leia can quit being a general in the Resistance. Her childhood friend Vice-Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern) can take over some of her duties; Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), whom Leia is mentoring in The Last Jedi, is another obvious successor.
And Leia? Perhaps she’ll finally get what Fisher asked George Lucas for her character prior to Return of the Jedi: a nice long galactic vacation.
“I must be totally exhausted,” Fisher said of Leia in 1982. “I figure I’m ready to go ‘hey guys, I can’t handle this any more. I’m going to get my hair done.'”
And if that was true of the character then, it’s certainly true now that her estranged space husband has been killed by her Dark Side son.
May your space vacation never end, Leia.