UPDATE: Scratch that! The official Star Wars website issued a statement in response to CGI reports:
"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."
When an actor unexpectedly passes away in the midst of production on a movie, it can throw the entire film into chaos, as the creative team scrambles to either recast the person in question, or rewrite the flick to explain away their absence. But what about when it happens in the midst of shooting an epic, blockbuster trilogy based on the most famous sci-fi franchise of all time -- but after part two has already wrapped?
That's the problem facing Disney and the producers of the "Star Wars" series after actress Carrie Fisher suddenly passed away late last month. Fisher had already completed work on "Episode VIII" before she died, but it was later revealed that she was to have a significantly more important role in the next film in the franchise, "Episode IX." Filmmakers are still struggling to figure out what to do -- director Colin Trevorrow has apparently been powwowing with the folks at Disney to come up with a solution -- and according to a new report, there's apparently one scenario they're weighing more heavily than others.
BBC Newsnight recently ran a piece about CGI characters in film, and discussed the technique's use in "Rogue One," which featured the digital resurrection of deceased-since-1994 Peter Cushing, and the creation of an age-reversed Fisher as Princess Leia. The piece is only available to viewers in the UK, but fan site Star Wars News was able to watch it, and reports that the story confirmed Disney is in talks with Fisher's estate to continue using her likeness in future installments of "Star Wars."
Here's the pertinent quote from the piece, per Star Wars News:
"And [in] what might be regarded as unseemly haste, Disney is negotiating with the actor's estate over her continued appearance in the franchise. If Disney gets the go-ahead, Carrie Fisher will join Peter Cushing..."
Star Wars News cuts things off there, so that's not a lot of info to go on. Could this piece be indicating that there are no plans to change the current plot of "Episode IX," and Fisher-as-Leia will continue to be a main character? Or will she simply be a peripheral presence? (Star Wars News suggests some hologram cameos.)
Whatever the plan is, it's not likely Disney and Lucasfilm will divulge it anytime soon. We just hope that whatever route they take, it's respectful, and does both Fisher and Leia justice.
"Star Wars: Episode IX" is due in theaters on May 23, 2019.