J.J. Abrams Says 'Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker' Didn't Have To Change Leia's Story Due To Carrie Fisher's Death

With just one month to go until Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters, the publicity blitz for the final chapter of the Skywalker saga is really heating up. Director J.J. Abrams and the key cast members have been featured in various interviews across the web, and little details of what fans can expect from the end of the primary Star Wars saga have been coming to the surface.

Unfortunately, the late Carrie Fisher can't be part of these proceedings. The Star Wars legend has been said to get sent off in "a really beautiful way," and if J.J. Abrams is to be believed, the passing of Carrie Fisher didn't have an impact on the story they would have crafted for General Leia Organa. That's interesting, because it appears to be in direct opposition to what Colin Trevorrow said when he was still attached to direct the sequel.

Speaking in the latest issue of Total Film (via sister site Games Radar), director J.J. Abrams offered up this surprising nugget about how Leia is utilized in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker:

"There are scenes where she's interacting with other characters in a way that is uncanny. Hopefully, if it works, it will be an invisible thing and if you didn't know, you would never know. But we got to tell the story with Leia that we would have told had Carrie lived. And that's kind of incredible."

We've heard that Abrams retooled around eight minutes of footage featuring Carrie Fisher that wasn't used in The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi, and through visual effects, they adapted the footage so that it allows her to interact with characters in new scenes. That doesn't seem like a lot of footage to play with to properly utilize the character in a way that's satisfying for fans who only have Leia to hold on to as the last surviving hero from the original Star Wars trilogy. But maybe it'll work just fine.

Interestingly enough, when Colin Trevorrow was still attached to direct the sequel back in May of 2017, he said that the passing of Carrie Fisher forced them to start from scratch on the sequel. Kathleen Kennedy even said Carrie Fisher wouldn't be appearing in the then-untitled Episode 9 while appearing at Star Wars Celebration that year. But something clearly changed when J.J. Abrams took over, and they figured out a way to bring her back. Perhaps that's what Carrie Fisher's brother, Todd Fisher, meant when he said recently, "She was going to be the big payoff in the final film. She was going to be the last Jedi, so to speak."

As for how Leia will be used in The Rise of Skywalker, we're not sure. Will she survive? Or will she go the way of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker? Honestly, I find it hard to believe that Leia's story would have been exactly the same if Carrie Fisher were alive, but maybe Abrams had this arc in mind for the character since he started The Force Awakens.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives on December 20, 2019.