Whereas The Force Awakens gave Han Solo more of a spotlight and The Last Jedi focused on Luke Skywalker, Episode IX was originally planned to be Leia Organa’s time to shine. Of course the focus of this sequel trilogy is on the new characters – especially Rey and Kylo Ren – but the original three of the legacy cast have played key roles as well.
But Carrie Fisher passed away before being able to film Episode IX, leading to some changes to the original ideas. And one of those original ideas, according to her brother, was that Leia would use a lightsaber.
Speaking to Yahoo!’s Ethan Alter, Todd Fisher revealed that Leia “was going to be the big payoff in the final film. She was going to be the last Jedi, so to speak. That’s cool right?” Fisher apparently also said that Leia was going to use a lightsaber in the film.
It’s easy to see how that could have been the trajectory, as The Last Jedi gave us the most obvious example yet of Leia’s Force prowess, saving herself when blown into space. And I really hope that J.J. Abrams and his team on The Rise of Skywalker are able to preserve some of that original feeling, giving us more and more a sense of Leia’s Force abilities and more of her embracing the ways of the Jedi – something she declined to focus on early on in her training with Luke.
And not to bury the lede or anything here, but Todd Fisher also said something that could be telling: he said that they had eight minutes of footage of Carrie Fisher to work with: “They had eight minutes of footage. 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.”
Eight minutes might not seem like a ton, but ILM can do incredible work, so I’m really interested in seeing just how much of a presence Leia still has in this film. Abrams previously called her the heartbeat of the movie, and I am super excited to get one last look at our beloved General on-screen.
It’s sad that Carrie Fisher wasn’t around to complete the sequel trilogy and get what sounds like some awesome moments, but it is really cool that she will still be in this film and have a significant role. I really hope that Abrams is able to preserve some of the feeling of what was originally planned, showing us more of Leia’s connection to the Force, but I will surely be grateful for whatever magic Abrams and ILM are able to work at bringing Fisher to the galaxy far, far away one last time.