“Star Wars” fans everywhere were crushed when Carrie Fisher died in 2016. Imagine our surprise, then, when Lucasfilm announced their cast for Episode IX and it included everybody’s favorite princess-turned-general. Yes, Leia Organa will be back in action when the “Star Wars” saga returns.
According to Episode IX director J.J. Abrams, you’re going to get the real Carrie Fisher. “We were never going to recast, or use a CG character,” Abrams said. “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.”
That’s a relief, since the last time we saw a CG Leia, it didn’t exactly go well.
The “Star Wars” franchise painted itself into a corner with its legends. In “The Force Awakens,” Han Solo was killed. In “The Last Jedi,” Luke died. So Leia was the last of the Big 3 whose story hadn’t concluded. Presumably, Fisher’s death blew up whatever was planned for the series finale.
To recap, the last time we saw Leia, she was flying away from Crait with the remnants of the Resistance after Luke’s sacrifice allowed them to escape. A disheartened Rey asks Leia, “How do we build a Rebellion from this?” Leia holds her hand and says, “We have everything we need.”
Given that Episode VII was about Ben Solo’s relationship with this father (Han), and Episode VIII was about his relationship with his Uncle Luke, it stands to reason that Episode IX was supposed to be about his relationship with his mother. Do they really have enough unreleased footage to tie up that loose end? Will they kill off Leia’s character? Given that Leia’s frozen corpse literally came back to life and flew through space after her ship was attacked, it’s hard to imagine a plausible death by conventional lasers or whatnot.
In any case, today’s cast announcement also confirms the rumor that Billy Dee Williams will return as Lando Calrissian. Will he end up with Chewie and the Falcon after all is said and done?
And there was another surprise: Mark Hamill will be back. Fans likely guessed that Luke’s Force ghost would reappear to guide Rey (or haunt Ben), and this announcement pretty much seals the deal.
Lucasfilm confirms that the returning cast includes Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd.
The final film in the “Star Wars” saga will also feature newcomers Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant. Filming begins August 1, 2018. The final chapter will blast its way into theaters on December 20, 2019.