| NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES
NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES Dec 27 Carrie Fisher's
unexpected death on Tuesday did not just leave "Star Wars" fans
heartbroken. It thrust movie studio Walt Disney Co into
a dilemma over the fate of her iconic character, Princess Leia,
as it moves forward with the blockbuster film franchise.
Fisher, 60, enjoyed a new round of fame when Princess Leia,
Harrison Ford's Han Solo and Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker were
reunited on screen for 2015's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens,"
which sold more than $2 billion in tickets at the global box
The actress had finished filming for the 2017 release of
"Star Wars: Episode VIII," Disney said, whose plot details have
remained, as always, a closely guarded secret.
Fisher was also expected to play a key role in the ninth
installment of the sci-fi saga, due for release in 2019.
A Disney spokeswoman on Tuesday declined to comment on
whether Leia would appear in films beyond "Episode VIII."
"Star Wars" director Colin Trevorrow said in a January 2016
interview that he was excited "to find new places that we can
take" the characters of Princess Leia and her on-screen twin
brother Luke Skywalker.
"They are icons, but they're also people that have suffered
tremendous loss and challenge over the course of all these
films," Trevorrow told celebrity news outlet Entertainment
"Star Wars" fans were already speculating on how the battle
between good and evil in the Galactic Empire could continue
without Fisher playing Leia, a fearless Rebel Alliance fighter
who in "The Force Awakens" had become a general.
Leia appears briefly at the end of the standalone movie now
in theaters, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," as a digital
recreation of the young princess. The late British actor Peter
Cushing, who died in 1994, is brought back to life as Death Star
commander Grand Moff Tarkin for "Rogue One" using computer
generated imagery (CGI).
"I'm not crying now but I'll probably cry when Disney
shamelessly CGI's Carrie Fisher's face into episode IX," a fan
named Thug Lucas said on Twitter on Tuesday.
Under a 1985 California law, filmmakers must get permission
from the estate of a celebrity to use his or her image for up to
70 years after death.
Other possibilities include redrafting the plot of "Episode
IX," re-shooting scenes from "Episode VIII," or casting another
look-alike actress, as the makers of "Harry Potter" did when
Richard Harris, who played headmaster Albus Dumbledore, died
after filming the first two movies.
On the entertainment website Heavy.com, some fans suggested
that singer Stevie Nicks could stand in for Fisher in future
movies. Others said she should be given a glorious screen death.
"I swear they better find a way to write Princess Leia out
of the movies, cause if they try and recast there will be hell
to pay," a fan identified as Kaitlin tweeted.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant and Lisa Richwine; Editing by