There has been much debate and discussion among Star Wars fans this week about the possibility of Meryl Streep taking over the role of Princess Leia for the final film in the current trilogy, Episode IX. The discussion was sparked earlier this week when a petition set up by care2 user Chill M at the time of The Last Jedi’s release last December suddenly went viral. The petition calls on “Lucasfilm, Walt Disney Studios, Ms. Kathleen Kennedy and Mr. J.J.Abrams” to cast the Oscar winner as Princess Leia in Episode IX.
The petition states that “Princess Leia has been a iconic character in STAR WARS and the history of Cinema, as she has told many of us that women can be strong, determined and more than the slaves of Jabba the Hutt.” Citing an interview with Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) with USA Today in which he said that “Leia was meant to be more prominent in (episode) 9,” Chill M writes, “As the fans of STAR WARS and Carrie Fisher, we really want Leia to shine in Episode IX and we certainly do not want her to be written out of the film abruptly without a reasonable plot. Therefore, recasting Leia is a more ideal option for us and we believe that Meryl Streep is an ideal candidate to play Leia.”
The call for Streep to take over the role for Fisher is not that far-fetched. The two have been friends for a long time, with Streep leading a number of tributes to the late actress in the year following her untimely death, including performing with Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd at the private wake. Streep has also already played a version of Fisher, taking on the semi-autobiographical role of Suzanne Vale in the film adaptation of Fisher’s Postcards from the Edge.
At the time of writing this, the petition has amassed almost 11,200 of its 12,000 signature goal.
However, do we really want Leia recast?
One person who is not in favour of it is Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill.
“I don’t know what the specific plans were for that character, but since Han was more prominent in VII, Luke was more prominent in VIII, we assumed that Leia would be more prominent in IX, especially with the dynamic of Kylo Ren being her son,” Hamill told Collider in a recent interview. “I think it would be tough recasting because she’s so indelibly linked to that character.”
He continued, “They’ve already ruled out the idea of computer generating her performance like they did with Peter Cushing, so gee, that’s got to be a really, not an insurmountable problem, but … I know the script had been developed enough so when we lost her they had to go back to square one. She’s irreplaceable as far as I’m concerned.”
I have to agree with Hamill. While I feel cheated that we don’t get the Leia movie we deserve in Episode IX, and from the set up they gave us in The Last Jedi, you just know that Leia would have kicked arse in Episode IX, I don’t think you can recast the role. Fisher is so indelibly linked to the role that to have someone else come in, even someone as spectacular as Streep, would just be jarring and completely take viewers out of the Star Wars universe. With the constant comparisons to Fisher, whatever Leia does and accomplishes in the film would almost be an after thought and both Fisher and Leia deserve more than that.
However, given how they ended The Last Jedi, just what they do with the character is going to be interesting and I worry that whatever they come up with, will be bittersweet and not enough. Would fans be happy to see Leia killed off screen sometime between The Last Jedi and Episode IX? Could they have all of Leia’s action happen “off screen” and just reported on by other characters? Could she be killed off in the first battle of the episode (which is likely to occur early on in the film)?
Whatever way the producers and writers decide to go in, one thing is for certain – not everyone will be happy.
Star Wars Episode IX is due in cinemas 20 December 2019.
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