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The death of Carrie Fisher left Star Wars fans across the Galaxy reeling. The cast and crew of The Last Jedi were devastated. In the case of Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford, they also lost a dear friend and colleague who they'd worked with since 1976. Now, Mark Hamill has given us a sense of just how that death will reshape the future of Star Wars.
Speaking at a Star Wars panel at #NYCC2017, Hamill told audiences he was confident the crowd would love The Last Jedi. He noted:
"I know they’re going to try and find a way to close her story in (Episode) 9 that gives her the respect she deserves, because (Han Solo) was more prominent in 7 (The Force Awakens), Luke’s a little more prominent in 8, and certainly Leia was meant to be more prominent in 9."
It's not the first time we've heard a statement like this. Although the Sequel Trilogy is essentially the passing of the torch, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy had insisted each of the films would feature an Origin Trilogy star in a major role. Speaking to Den of Geek back in May, she'd confirmed that Episode IX was intended to be Carrie Fisher's film.
That's not to say General Organa won't play a major role in #TheLastJedi. Disney CEO Bob Iger himself has confirmed that Leia will be a force to be reckoned with in the next Star Wars film, and has also reassured fans that the film hasn't been rewritten in light of Fisher's tragic death.
What About 'Episode IX'?
But that leaves the future of Star Wars with a difficult question. Lucasfilm has wisely ruled out recasting the role of Leia Organa for Episode IX, and have promised not to use CGI to recreate her character like they did in Rogue One. There's a Leia-sized hole in the future of our beloved Galaxy Far, Far Away, and Lucasfilm has to find a way to fill it.
It's likely this issue has been a driving force behind the set drama on #EpisodeIX. Colin Trevorrow had been working on the script for over a year when Fisher sadly died, and seems to have struggled to adapt to the necessary changes. We ultimately saw Lucasfilm part ways with Trevorrow, choosing instead to bring back J. J. Abrams to finish off the Sequel Trilogy. The release date for Episode IX has been bumped back to December 20th, 2019, giving Abrams and Chris Terrio time to work on the script.
Ironically, one of the weaknesses of the Sequel Trilogy is now working in Lucasfilm's favor. Lucasfilm launched the Sequel Trilogy without a clear road-map and destination, giving writers and directors a remarkable degree of flexibility. While it's true that everything is done under Kathleen Kennedy's watchful eye, she seems to believe in giving her creators as much room to maneuver as possible. That may be a real help with Abrams and Terrio, who have to somehow bring Leia's story to a respectful conclusion.
Star Wars fans will be heartbroken at Mark Hamill's words, a reminder that Carrie Fisher had so much left to give. Perhaps the most beautiful part of this though is that Lucasfilm is taking Leia's arc seriously, aiming to end her story in the most respectful way possible. It's worth remembering that Fisher was more than just a legend to the men and women of Lucasfilm. She was also a dear friend, and we can be certain they want to do her legacy justice.