February 7, 2023
No One's Ever Really Gone|How Technology Will Complete Leia’s Arc in Episode IX

Exploring the return of Leia Organa in Star Wars: Episode IX

Recently, Lucasfilm announced that JJ Abrams will be using previously unused footage of Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa in Star Wars: Episode IX. From reports, it will be a mix of scenes from both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. In my opinion this is the most logical choice, and was an intelligent marketing strategy from Lucasfilm. This puts to rest any speculation of recast or computer-generated imagery (CGI) to bed right from the start. Star Wars fans do not have to wait until next December to find out how JJ will handle the unfortunate passing of Carrie Fisher. Having Carrie finish what she started in 1977 is a great way to honor her as well. We get Carrie, one last time, as the heroine we all grew up admiring and adoring. We have seen other major films go through similar situations, so let us take a look at a couple of examples.

Let Her Braids Down: The Leia Dilemma

The first one that comes to the forefront is Fast and Furious 7. Actor Paul Walker tragically died while the movie was still in production. While most of the filming for the movie was completed, they used previously unused scenes with Paul to finish the film. They also used his younger brothers as stand-ins to complete certain scenes. Essentially, they recreated Paul’s face from outtakes and used his brothers as the body doubles, then digitally placed Paul’s face in post-production. As we can see, this is not an easy process. Realistically they could use a body double and digitally place Carrie’s face on them to do some scenes in Episode IX. Personally, I don’t think they will but only time will tell.

How JJ Abrams will bring Leia back in Episode IX

Another film that used CGI to finish a performance was Gladiator. Actor Oliver Reed unfortunately died during a break in production, with important scenes that still needed to be shot. Instead of recasting the role, CGI technology was used and the character was killed in a way which fit the storyline. Technology has vastly improved and CGI is not what it once was years ago. So, for a film as highly awarded as Gladiator, the use of the older CGI technology is truly an accomplishment.  From previous reports, Lucasfilm made it clear that CGI would not be used in finishing Leia’s arc in Star Wars: Episode IX. However, if the scene called for it, I would be fine with them using CGI technology to complete some of Leia’s scenes in the film.

Let Her Braids Down: The Leia Dilemma

Now, an idea that I have heard multiple fans bring up is using hologram scenes as part of her performance. This would be an interesting way to use Carrie’s previously unseen footage. It would be quite poetic to see her in hologram form like we did some many years ago. Especially if Poe is on a mission and needed to talk to Leia, a hologram would be perfect for that situation. I ultimately imagine we will see Carrie on the big screen. No body double or CGI version, but her own previously unseen performance as our beloved Princess and General.

No One's Ever Really Gone|How Technology Will Complete Leia’s Arc in Episode IX

We have come a long way with technology in regard to film making. From Infinity War to the latest Blade Runner, the tools and instruments to make these lavish sets is extraordinary. Even television, with shows like Game of Thrones, the production value is limitless. With companies like ILM, the potential will always be there. Even when tragedy strikes, hope remains. As Luke said in The Last Jedi, “No one’s ever really gone.” For Star Wars fans, that means being able to see Carrie complete Leia Organa’s journey that started a long time ago…in a galaxy far, far away.

Do you think Lucasfilm will use CGI to complete certain shots of Leia Organa in Episode IX? Drop us a line and share your thoughts…

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