Star Wars: Leia Was Originally a Jedi in The Rise of Skywalker

Leia would have been revealed to be "the last Jedi" in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker had Carrie Fisher not passed away in 2016.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi‘s two most memorable moments involve incredible uses of the Force: Luke projecting himself across the galaxy to face the entire First Order on Crait, and Leia’s ability to shield herself from the vaccuum of space and float back to her capital ship. While it makes perfect sense that Luke would have become a master of the Force in the 30 years since Return of the Jedi, the movie doesn’t really delve into how Leia learned her own Force abilities. 

According to Carrie Fisher’s real brother, Todd Fisher, The Rise of Skywalker would have revealed much more about Leia’s connection to the Force and the Jedi. In fact, Leia was originally meant to be the “last Jedi” after Luke’s passing in Episode VIII. And she would have had her own lightsaber!

“[Leia] was going to be the big payoff in the final film,” Fisher told Yahoo. “She was going to be the last Jedi, so to speak. That’s cool right?”

This is not the first time someone with knowledge of Episode IX has said that the movie would have put a greater emphasis on Leia’s role in the saga. Back in 2017, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy told Vanity Fair that Leia would have been the central focus of Episode IX.

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“The minute she finished [filming The Last Jedi], she grabbed me and said, ‘I’d better be at the forefront of IX!’ Because Harrison was front and center on VII, and Mark is front and center on VIII. She thought IX would be her movie. And it would have been.”

Leia’s Jedi reveal would have undoubtedly been an iconic moment in Star Wars history, akin to when she became a Jedi in the old expanded universe. While Fisher’s passing in 2016 means we’ll never get to see this original version of The Rise of Skywalker, director J.J. Abrams and the crew of Episode IX were able to include Leia in the upcoming saga-capper thanks to a bit of digital wizardry and unused footage from The Force Awakens. You’ve likely even already seen some of that footage in the trailers released for the movie. 

“They had eight minutes of footage,” Fisher said of the process of bringing his sister back to life for the movie. “They grabbed every frame and analyzed it… and then reverse-engineered it and [got] it into the story the right way. It’s kind of magical.”

According to Fisher, seeing Leia one last time in The Rise of Skywalker will be nothing short of breathtaking. 

“This is, in its own way, a payoff. … It’s Carrie talking to us all from beyond. The beautiful thing about the concept of the Force is that there is no real death; you just exist in another dimension. So Carrie is looking down or sideways or wherever and is still part of us. To be able to see that — it’s magical stuff only in the movies.”

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker premieres on Dec. 20. 

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John Saavedra is an associate editor at Den of Geek. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @johnsjr9.

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