General Leia in Star Wars Episode 9

When the official press release announcing the cast of Star Wars: Episode 9 was revealed on Friday, fans were happy to hear that Mark Hamill would be returning as Luke Skywalker (likely in a Force ghost capacity) and Billy Dee Williams would finally reprise his role of Lando Calrissian. But there was one returning legacy character that was rather surprising: Carrie Fisher as General Leia.

Carrie Fisher sadly passed away in December of 2016, which resulted in a massive overhaul of what was originally planned for Episode 9. Since then, fans have assumed that a time jump between Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the next and final installment of the Skywalker saga would make it possible for General Leia to have died off-screen. But as the press release says, J.J. Abrams has figured out a way to use unseen footage from The Force Awakens to bring the character back and offer “a truly satisfying conclusion” with her presence.

The question is: what footage could have been shot for The Force Awakens that might be repurposed for Star Wars: Episode 9? It turns out that there are a couple possible sequences cut from The Force Awakens that we already know about which might offer some hint as to how Carrie Fisher will come into play for this final chapter in the Skywalker saga.

General Leia in Star Wars Episode 9

A Conversation with Rey

In The Force Awakens, General Leia doesn’t have much interaction with the scavenger Rey. There’s only a moment at the end of the movie where they share a brief exchange before Rey goes off to find Luke Skywalker with the completed map they have to his location. However, they originally had a longer exchange, as detailed in the novelization of the movie. Here’s how that exchange went down:

“I’m proud of what you’re about to do,” she told the girl. Rey replied in all seriousness. “But you’re also afraid. In sending me away, you’re—reminded.” Leia straightened. “You won’t share the fate of our son.” “I know what we’re doing is right. This is how it has to be. This is how it should be.” Leia smiled gently, reassuringly. “I know it, too. May the Force be with you.”

If this scene was shot but deleted from the movie, this could prove to be a nice final message to Rey, perhaps as some kind of farewell hologram message delivered to the new Jedi if General Leia has died at the start of Episode 9. And there’s even a scene before that which could beef up that final message.

As we saw in the second teaser for The Force Awakens, Leia was originally the one who was receiving Luke Skywalker’s old lightsaber from Maz Kanata. We’ve never seen the footage from that moment, but there’s always a chance that Leia could have had some kind of conversation with Rey about her brother during that sequence before the story ended up changing so that Finn ended up with the lightsaber instead. Perhaps some dialogue could be repurposed to go along with the aforementioned exchange with Rey for a final touching scene between the two. They’ve only known each other a short time, but they’ve both been heartbroken by the loss of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker.

General Leia in Star Wars Episode 9

A Speech to the Resistance

One other possibility is that we might get one final speech to the Resistance delivered by their general. The end of The Last Jedi features a passing of the torch to some extent when Leia tells the rest of the surviving Resistance members, “What are you looking at me for?” and gestures to Poe Dameron to lead them out of the abandoned Rebel base on Crait. This seemingly sets him up as the new leader of the Resistance in Episode 9.

However, in order for that to happen, Leia would need to either step down from her post or be killed. So if Episode 9 does either of those things, it would stand to reason that Leia would give one last speech to the Resistance. It turns out one such speech might exist, because one of the deleted tidbits we heard about after The Force Awakens was released but didn’t have concrete details on was a speech Leia gave to the Resistance in the war room after the destruction of Starkiller Base.

If General Leia has died by the beginning of Episode 9, or perhaps in the beginning of the movie somehow, then having one final speech from her play to the Resistance would be a fine way to send her off.

One other possibility is that there might be another speech where Leia asks the Republic (before it’s destroyed by Starkiller Base) for resources to help them in the fight against the First Order. Uproxx reporter Mike Ryan believes there’s a deleted scene where she goes to Hosnian Prime to make this request herself. Wouldn’t it be cool if Leia’s final appearance in Star Wars was again asking for help to fight tyranny? After all, that’s exactly what she was doing when she first appeared in A New Hope, and that was the catalyst to bring Luke Skywalker into the fight against the Empire.

However, the only problem with that is there’s a deleted scene that was released where Leia sends Korr Sella (played by Maisie Richardson-Sellers) to make her case for the Senate to take direct action against the First Order. That might be the scene Mike Ryan is referring to, but it’s possible that in a last ditch effort, Leia made the case herself in a scene that didn’t end up in the movie.

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Those are the possibilities that we brainstormed for how Carrie Fisher would return as General Leia in Star Wars Episode 9. But there’s a chance that some deleted scenes exist that we don’t know about. After all, there was a period where the story for The Force Awakens was in flux and certain story elements didn’t play out as they were originally intended. But more than likely, we’ll have to wait and see what Carrie Fisher’s final performance as General Leia entails.

The good news is that Carrie Fisher’s brother Todd Fisher approves of whatever plans J.J. Abrams has for bringing back his sister for the end of this new trilogy. Here’s Todd Fisher’s statement on the matter:

“As we, her family, as well as her extended family of fans around the world so believe, Carrie’s Princess Leia is forever entrenched in the franchise and her indelible presence is fundamental to the film. J.J. Abrams understood Carrie’s iconic role, and he has masterfully re-crafted this final entry to include this unused and very last footage of Carrie ever taken, without resorting to CGI or animatronics. Our family and her fans will look forward with great anticipation for this one! Her force will forever be with us!”

Star Wars: Episode 9 is slated to hit theaters on December 20, 2019.

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