There may be hope yet for Leia’s future in Star Wars after actor Carrie Fisher’s death in December raised questions about the fate of the iconic character, who Fisher had recently revived for The Force Awakens. A report from BBC’s Newsnight (available only in the U.K., but i09 has a transcript of the segment’s opening here) suggests that the studio is examining at least one option to keep Leia’s legacy alive: computer-generated imagery. The program reports that Disney is “negotiating with the actor’s estate over her continued appearance in the franchise” and is considering using the same technology that resurrected Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin and a young Fisher for Rogue One.
Newslight’s reporting follows the Hollywood Reporter’s news last week that Lucasfilm executives and Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow would be meeting to discuss Fisher’s future in the franchise. Fisher had already wrapped filming on Episode VIII but was supposed to have an even more substantial role in Episode IX, on which production has not yet started.
Recasting such an iconic character seems unthinkable, and writing her out of the story might be unsatisfying, so using CGI to keep her around is at least a plausible option. But none of this is a certainty—even if Disney is in negotiations with Fisher’s estate, that could just as easily mean including her in marketing, comics, or one of the franchise’s animated TV shows, which the character has appeared in before.
The use of an actor’s likeness after their death is a tricky legal and ethical issue. But Fisher, for her part, apparently loved Rogue One’s recreation of her 19-year-old self. If they give 60-year-old Fisher the same treatment, here’s hoping that the effects department can work out some of the uncanny valley issues in time to really do her justice.
Update, 7:40 p.m.: The official Star Wars site has issued a statement denying the reports. It reads:
We don’t normally respond to fan or press speculation, but there is a rumor circulating that we would like to address. We want to assure our fans that Lucasfilm has no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher’s performance as Princess or General Leia Organa.
Carrie Fisher was, is, and always will be a part of the Lucasfilm family. She was our princess, our general, and more importantly, our friend. We are still hurting from her loss. We cherish her memory and legacy as Princess Leia, and will always strive to honor everything she gave to Star Wars.