‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Marked This Bittersweet Milestone for the Late Carrie Fisher

Perhaps Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was always destined to disappoint. Carrie Fisher’s tragic death led the movie to incorporate the late actor through archive footage. And as the presumed final installment of the Skywalker saga, the movie already carried the pressure of tying up all loose ends. At least the Star Wars movie pays tribute to Fisher in a notable way.

'Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker' sign
‘Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker’ sign | JC Olivera/Getty Images

Carrie Fisher passed away after filming ‘The Last Jedi’

Although Fisher technically appears in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, its predecessor was the final film she participated in. Fisher died on Dec. 27, 2016. That’s roughly a year before Lucasfilm released Star Wars: The Last Jedi. In fact, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was only weeks into its own theatrical run when news of Fisher’s death broke.

That film uses CGI to recreate Fisher as she appears in the original Star Wars. But producers quickly ruled out taking a similar approach to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. After all, Fisher personally approved of the Rogue One plan. So, instead, director J.J. Abrams applied footage he’d shot of Fisher in 2015’s The Force Awakens, culminating in Leia’s death.

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‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ finished Leia’s arc

According to Yahoo!, Abrams had eight minutes of footage to wrap up Leia’s story. And Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker uses some of that to reveal the character’s own Jedi past. The movie sees Leia take over Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) training and explores why Leia didn’t commit to the Jedi Order. In fact, The Rise of Skywalker was intended to make Leia an even greater focus.

The previous two entries in the sequel trilogy highlighted Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), respectively. Likewise, Fisher’s Leia Organa would have been the crux of the Skywalker saga’s big finale. While this didn’t pan out as intended, The Rise of Skywalker still marks a major milestone for Fisher’s sixth time in her iconic role.

Even though she wasn’t physically present on the set, Fisher carries top billing in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker for the very first time. Ford and Hamill each were listed first in the credits on the first two sequel trilogy films. But since The Rise of Skywalker serves largely as a tribute to Fisher, it makes sense she would finally earn the same honor, albeit posthumously. 

RELATED: Carrie Fisher Wasn’t the Only 1 Who Played Leia in ‘Rise of Skywalker’

Will ‘Star Wars: Episode 10’ involve the Skywalkers?

At this point, Han, Luke, and Leia have all concluded their stories. So Star Wars will likely have to move past its initial trio at last. For now, the saga’s big-screen future is very much unclear. Directors Patty Jenkins and Taika Waititi have film projects in the works. But will either of these be a Star Wars Episode X? That doesn’t seem likely.

Except for The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, most of Lucasfilm’s plans sidestep what happens after Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Instead, projects like The Mandalorian and the other Disney+ shows are filling in storytelling gaps. Still, the “galaxy far, far away” might return to its central family, with Rey Skywalker in the lead.