Rian Johnson Explains Why Carrie Fisher’s Final Star Wars Scenes Were Left Untouched

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Though Carrie Fisher initially passed away in December of 2016, with the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, moviegoers were given the chance to say goodbye to the People’s Princess.

Fittingly, General Leia Organa was given a powerful, profound arc in Rian Johnson’s sequel, as she led the tattered remnants of the Resistance to Crait only to encounter her long-lost brother, Luke Skywalker – or, at least, a Force projection of Mark Hamill’s all-powerful, all-seeing Jedi, who was actually still meditating on Ahch-To just as The Last Jedi reached its beautiful climax.

True to his original promise, Johnson also ensured that Leia was left alive by the time the credits rolled, leaving the fate of her Resistance leader in the hands of J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: Episode IX). Exactly how Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio (Justice League) plan to bring the curtain down on Leia’s story remains to be seen, but while appearing on Bullseye with Jesse Thorn (via ComicBook.com), Rian Johnson once again reaffirmed that, barring some ADR work and general fine-tuning, Carrie Fisher’s final Star Wars scenes were left untouched.

But first, a somber reflection from the director:

It’s impossible not to change watching it, the filter you watch it through and all of her scenes just become a lot more complicated watching them back. Absolutely it did. And then, obviously, her scene with Luke [Skywalker], suddenly it becomes a goodbye scene in a much more profound way than it was before.

The filmmaker, who has been placed in control of an all-new trilogy at Lucasfilm, then spoke about the immediate aftermath of Fisher’s death, during which time he and Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy put their heads together and began formulating ideas for The Last Jedi and life without Leia.

She passed away around New Year’s. We got back after the holiday break and went in the edit room and looked through all of her scenes and had a conversation with [Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy] and the question briefly arose, ‘Do we try and do something? Do we try and manufacture an ending for the character or something?’ I felt strongly and we decided pretty quickly no, we’re gonna let this performance stand.

And though a CGI resurrection was allegedly floated early on in the process – think of how Grand Moff Tarkin was brought back for Rogue One – Lucasfilm and Rian Johnson ultimately chose to leave Leia’s final performance as is, lest they spurn the chance to immortalize Carrie Fisher on the silver screen for the final time.

And also because her performance, I thought, was beautiful and I thought that if we did that, we’d have to lose some element of it. Whether it was the scene with Luke or the scene at the end with her and Daisy [Ridley] in the Falcon. I want, especially now, I want to leave the movie with Carrie Fisher having told me the words of hope at the end of this movie. I wanted the world to have this performance of hers.

She’ll certainly be missed, as will Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker – even if all signs point to a possible, ghost-like return in Star Wars: Episode IX.

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