The future of Star Wars was thrown into a world of uncertainty when Carrie Fisher died at the end of 2016. Although potentially record breaking insurance payouts could make the financial journey to the end of the current trilogy somewhat more comfortable, there is not going to be an easy way to continue the story as planned without Fisher there in her iconic role of General Leia Organa. There are already plenty of ideas floating around about the options available to Disney and Lucasfilm, and it has been reported that key players at the companies and in the film have already met to discuss potential paths.
This week, BBC Newsnight broadcast a report about the resurrection of late actors via CGI so that their roles may be reprised in movies. This is not new technology – indeed, Star Wars has made use of it already to bring Peter Cushing back from the dead as Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
As presenter Kirsty Wark concluded the piece, she mentioned the possibility that the same could be done to allow General Leia to continue with the story already planned for her and suggested that Disney is actively pursuing this option:
“And with what might be regarded as unseemly haste, Disney is negotiating with the actor’s estate over her continued appearance in the franchise.“
For now, there remains no solid agreement about what might happen. Fisher’s estate are well within their rights to refuse to let Disney use her likeness, especially as she is not around to consent to it being used. As Fisher’s death came so suddenly and unexpectedly, it is unlikely she would have left instructions about how she would prefer a situation like this to be handled.
Now that this kind of technolog has been developed to such an advanced point, though, it is something that many actors – and other celebrities – are contemplating.
This was even acknowledged in Wark’s report:
“With computers, anything is possible, but is it desirable? While some living actors are contracting over the use of their image when they die, others, like Robin Williams, who killed himself in 2014, explicitly banned the commercial use of his image until 2039.“
There has also been no indiciation of how Disney would use Fisher’s likeness, as using CGI technology for such a prominent character would take a lot of time and effort to ensure it looked consistently good. They could be hoping to polish up some Star Wars VIII scenes. They may be planning to use CGI technology to bring General Leia’s story to a respectful close in a brief handful of scenes in Star Wars IX. Or they may not have a specific idea in mind yet, but want to know just how available this option is to them over the course of the next few films.