Carrie Fisher would have led next 'Star Wars' before her sudden death

PHOTO: Reuters

LOS ANGELES - Late actress Carrie Fisher was supposed to be the leading force of the ninth film in the "Star Wars" saga, plans derailed by her sudden death last year, Lucasfilm Ltd president Kathleen Kennedy said in an interview published on Wednesday.

Kennedy told Vanity Fair that Fisher, who died in December at age 60 after suffering a heart attack, had finished filming the forthcoming eighth film "The Last Jedi" and was hoping her character, General Leia Organa, would be the central figure of Episode IX.

"The minute she finished, she grabbed me and said, 'I'd better be at the forefront of IX!' because Harrison(Ford) was front and centre on VII, and Mark (Hamill) is front and centre on VIII. She thought IX would be her movie. And it would have been," Kennedy said.

Fisher rose to fame as Princess Leia in the original "Star Wars" franchise from 1977 to 1983, alongside Ford's roguish Han Solo and Hamill's Jedi fighter Luke Skywalker.

Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher dies aged 60

  • Carrie Fisher, who rose to fame as Princess Leia in the Star Wars films and later endured drug addiction and stormy romances with show business heavyweights, died on Tuesday (Dec 27), her daughter said through a family spokesman.
  • Fisher, the daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher, who died in 2010, had been in England shooting the third season of the British sitcom Catastrophe. She suffered a heart attack during a flight on Friday from London to Los Angeles. She was met by paramedics and rushed to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
  • Fisher started her showbiz life in 1989 hit film When Harry Met Sally, as a memorable supporting role. Summing up the showbiz legacy she expected to leave behind in her 2011 memoir "Shockaholic," Fisher wrote in self-deprecating style: "What you'll have of me after I journey to that great Death Star in the sky is an extremely accomplished daughter, a few books, and a picture of a stern-looking girl wearing some kind of metal bikini lounging on a giant drooling squid, behind a newscaster informing you of the passing of Princess Leia after a long battle with her head."
  • But her life was also mired at times in substance abuse, mental illness and tumultuous romances with other entertainment figures, all of which he laid bare in her books, interviews and a one-woman stage show titled "Wishful Drinking."
  • Fisher's friend and former Star Wars' co-star Mark Hamill said in a tweet: "No words. #Devastated"
  • Her death came a month after the actress and author made headlines by disclosing that she had a three-month love affair with her Star Wars co-star Harrison Ford (extreme right) 40 years ago.
  • "It was so intense," Fisher told People. "It was Han and Leia during the week, and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend."
  • Shortly after news of her death was made public, her dog Gary, who has his own Twitter account, said goodbye: "Saddest tweets to tweet. Mommy is gone. I love you @carrieffisher."
  • Fisher wrote her bestselling novel, Postcards from the Edge, about a drug-abusing actress forced to move back in with her mother. She later adapted the book into a film that starred Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.

Ford bowed out of the series as his character was killed off in 2015's "The Force Awakens," that rebooted the "Star Wars" franchise with a new trilogy of films from Walt Disney Co.

While details of "The Last Jedi," due out on Dec. 15, have been kept secret, Vanity Fair said Fisher's role in the film was not affected by her death, other than making it "more poignant: the film farewell of both the actress and the character."

The yet-to-be-titled ninth film, due out in May 2019, has been reworked by Kennedy, director Colin Trevorrow and the Lucasfilm team, Vanity Fair said, and is due to start filming next year. Lucasfilm said earlier this year that it would not digitally recreate Fisher's likeness in future films.

Vanity Fair's feature celebrating the franchise's 40th anniversary, revealed details about new characters in "The Last Jedi" played by Laura Dern, Benicio Del Toro and newcomer Kelly Marie Tran.

It also provided tidbits from the set, such as a reported competition between Hamill and Fisher to see who could reach a million Twitter followers first.