Should Carrie Fisher Really be Edited Into Star Wars Episode IX?

Princess Leia is coming back for the next Star Wars movie. But is that really the best way to respect her legacy?

This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

After Carrie Fisher tragically passed away in December 2016, Disney was left with a bit of a problem on their hands. They could either reshoot the final scenes she shot for The Last Jedi and give her character a respectful early send-off, or they could just leave everything alone and worry about it later…

While it was great to see Fisher with a decent role in the last chapter, her absence now leaves a big Leia shaped hole in the trilogy closer – one that JJ Abrams recently confirmed he’s going to plug with bits of old footage, re-edited to give Fisher a posthumous role in Episode IX.

“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.”

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Quick to jump in, Mark Hamill (who is also getting a role in the next film, presumably as a blue force ghost), added his support to the idea on Twitter:

Bittersweet is exactly the word.

On the one hand, there was no way that Abrams could simply write Leia out of Star Wars. No one would have been happy if the new movie started with her funeral, or if a dumb line of dialogue explained her away (Rey: “Hey, where’s General Leia? I haven’t seen her for a while”, Anonymous Rebel Leader: “Oh yeah, she got called away on business. She left her Out Of Office on though”). Realistically, Abrams had to use her somehow.

On the other hand, using old off-cuts and out-takes of Fisher – presumably digitally manipulated to add her into a new background and scene, potentially even puppeting her mouth to shape new lines of dialogue – all seems a bit… wrong.

Rogue One saw Gareth Edwards cast a young Fisher (and an alive Peter Cushing) using fairly flawless, but still noticeable, CG technology, and the effect was somewhere between impressive and disturbing.  

Abrams has said that he didn’t want to use a CG character, but unless he happened to shoot Fisher saying the exact lines, in the exact location, that he has in mind, there’s bound to be some digital work involved. We know that he’s pulling unused scenes from The Force Awakens, but her scenes in that movie were all set on D’Qar, mostly talking to Han, which obviously won’t make sense anymore.

As Abrams has already pointed out, Fisher’s daughter, Billie, has given her “support and blessing” and the much-loved actor will no doubt be treated with as much respect as possible by the filmmakers. There’s every chance, too, that her role in the new film will be severely limited to a few short cameos. But would Fisher herself have wanted this to happen? Would any actor want their unfinished, unpolished outtakes cobbled into a new performance after they’ve died? And what does this mean for the future of other famous stars?

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Asking much bigger questions about the rights actors have to their own faces and bodies – and the morality of filmmakers using them without their permission – the recent casting news is bound to be a landmark step in whatever direction the wider debate takes next. Will we be seeing a new Humphrey Bogart movie soon? Does anyone want to see an Indiana Jones sequel with a young Harrison Ford? Should modern movie stars think about scanning themselves into a computer, so they can keep on making movies after they’ve died? 

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