If you ever need someone to keep a secret — but also need to tease people about that secret — Rian Johnson’s your man.
The director of the upcoming Star Wars sequel The Last Jedi manages not to spill any beans on the movie in a new interview and behind-the-scenes video, below, via USA Today. But he is very good at opening the bag and letting you smell the beans.
In particular, Johnson tackled the most pressing and highly-charged concern among fans. The one about the General, Princess, former Senator and grieving widow Leia Organa.
Carrie Fisher died, tragically and unexpectedly, shortly after completing her work on the movie. Lucasfilm was expecting at the time to continue her character’s story in the next movie (the still-untitled Episode IX); yet the company has vowed not to commit any sort of CGI Leia travesty. So given all these constraints, will Johnson wrap up Leia’s story to the audience’s satisfaction?
We already know from a previous interview that the director has not altered Leia’s fate in the film, and that Fisher’s scenes are “beautiful and complete … I felt very strongly that we don’t try to change her performance.”
This almost certainly means there’s no death scene: Leia may simply leave for that long, relaxing space vacation Fisher always wanted for the long-suffering character. But it may also mean that Johnson is punting on the solution, leaving it to the in-between-episodes world of books and comics — and perhaps Episode IX will open with Leia’s funeral.
Here’s what Johnson had to say this time around:
Having these [Leia] scenes in the film recontextualize tragically with her not being here anymore, it’s incredibly emotional. For the next few months, seeing the fans … process the loss and celebrate her as Leia one last time, it’s going to be intense. I think it’s going to be really sad but really joyful, I hope. She really kicks [butt] as General Leia, and I’m happy for that.
Now there’s a statement for fans to unpack. About the only clarity here is the confirmation that this is Leia’s “last time” in Star Wars. But the rest appears to be all over the emotional map: intense, sad, joyful, glorious butt-kicking.
And what does it mean that the Leia scenes “recontexualize tragically”? In theory, any scene could do that if its dialogue becomes ironic — if General Organa tells Poe Dameron she’ll always be there for him, for example, that would fit the bill. (Leia and Poe spend a lot of time together in this film; we already know she spends time mentoring the brash young pilot, grooming him to help lead the Resistance.)
The main thing we can be certain of, based on Johnson’s remarks, is that the Leia scenes in The Last Jedi will be an emotional roller coaster; you may be a wreck by the time we have to wave goodbye to the General. No matter how that goodbye is handled.