What we know about Carrie Fisher's next 'Star Wars' movie
The last time we saw Carrie Fisher onscreen, she was a general.
In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it was Leia's loss of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) we were grieving. But when Star Wars: Episode VIII hits theaters Dec. 15, 2017, fans will be aching for Fisher, who died Tuesday after suffering a heart attack during a flight four days earlier.
The Force remains tight-lipped about Fisher's role in the saga's upcoming installments. For now, few details are available about how the actress figures into the as-yet-untitled Episode VIII, though Fisher had completed her scenes for the film, which wrapped up shooting in July.
USA TODAY has reached out to Disney and Lucasfilm for comment.
The Force Awakens, seen as a "little bit of a victory lap" for the original cast, left Leia as a pivotal character, says Scott Huver, contributing writer for Moviefone.com.
What is known about Episode VIII is that the main players of The Force Awakens — including Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) — will have their stories continue under writer/director Rian Johnson.
"We know that the movie is supposed to be darker than The Force Awakens in its tone," says Huver. "I would assume we should anticipate an onscreen reunion between Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Leia, given that he’s going to be more prominent in Episode VIII."
But what isn't clear "is whether or not they had planned to put her in Episode IX as well, or if she had signed to do future Star Wars movies," says Erik Davis, managing editor for Fandango.com and Movies.com.
Episode IX, directed by Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World), hasn't begun shooting yet. That film has a release date set for May 23, 2019.
After a brief cameo (spoiler alert!) in the new standalone movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Leia plays a larger role in Episode VIII, Deadline reports. That's not surprising, says Davis, adding that at the end of The Force Awakens, "she's taken control of the Rebels, she's a general, she's very much a leader of that new Rebel Force. I imagine in the the next one she's still the leader in charge and commands are going through her."
And it's no small plot point that "the villain in the movie is still her son Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) that she had with Han Solo," Davis adds. "If they have a confrontation at all, you imagine that could be a pretty big one."
While big-budget movies often require reshoots prior to release, technology has been a key player in difficult situations, as in the loss of Paul Walker, who died in a car accident in 2013. Though the star had completed the majority of shots for Furious 7, his brothers Caleb and Cody stood in as body doubles to help finish the remaining action sequences for the film.
It remains to be seen if reshoots or script rewrites will take place for Episode VIII or IX.
Arriving first will be Star Wars Celebration, taking place April 13 through 16 in Orlando. "I imagine much of that is going to be a celebration of her life and her role in the films," says Davis. "It's going to be probably the most emotional Star Wars Celebration that we've seen yet."
Director J.J. Abrams, who helmed The Force Awakens, wrote Tuesday that "You didn't need to meet Carrie Fisher to understand her power. She was just as brilliant and beautiful, tough and wonderful, incisive and funny as you could imagine. What an unfair thing to lose her. How lucky to have been blessed with her at all."