If you went into Star Wars: The Last Jedi expecting to closure with Carrie Fisher’s General Leia, you certainly got some. She gave a beautiful final performance as the strong-as-hell space heroine, and not only did she help save the remaining members of the Resistance, but she also passed her leadership mantle over to her chosen one, Poe Dameron (even though she did kinda shoot him). While we were thrilled to see her reunited with Rey and the Millennium Falcon at the very end of the movie, it’s hard not to talk about the fact that, sadly, in real life Fisher passed away. So why didn’t Leia die during The Last Jedi?
First, be honest, did you want to see Leia die during The Last Jedi? Oh no. Never in a million years, because that would honestly be TOO SAD — and also like, spoiler warnings from here on out, friends.
The Last Jedi keeps Leia alive, and whenever the next Star Wars film, Episode IX, picks up, it’s…well, assumed Leia will still be alive in the film? Maybe? No one’s sure, and there’s still time to figure that out. It certainly would have been easier, story plotting wise, to send the general off with a fitting tribute — and the film actually gave us a moment where we were pretty sure Leia was going to die. Then she’s saved at the last second. There’s a reason for all of this.
Talking with The Hollywood Reporter following the film, director Rian Johnson explained that he certainly thought about changing the film to work in Fisher’s passing, but in the end, decided that wouldn’t be fair to her final performance, or the fans.
“I felt really strongly that what we have here is so beautiful and the way that the character develops, the way it’s paid off, and not only that, the horror of trying to manufacture something [for her on-screen death],” Johnson explained. “I don’t even know what it would have been, but something for the end of this movie that leaves it in a place where the transition is easier, the idea of, ‘Oh God, how would you fake something like that, and how would it not be terrible?’ Given that we have a beautiful, complete performance from her that I think audiences deserve to see, and I think it will mean a lot for them, that ray of hope from Leia…With this movie I just wanted audiences to have this performance. “
But as for what happens next, Johnson is leaving that in the hands of returning director, J.J. Abrams. He’s going to finish out this trilogy, and somehow, Leia will be there in spirit. “We have a fantastic storyteller in J.J. Abrams who is going to figure out a way to bring it home in the end,” he continued. “That’s going to be satisfying, I know he’s going to.”
We’re already excited for Episode IX. How far away is December 20th, 2019?