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


LOS ANGELES, May 24 (Reuters) - 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 center on VII, and Mark (Hamill) is front and center 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.

44 PHOTOS
Carrie Fisher's best red carpet moments
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Carrie Fisher's best red carpet moments
Carrie Fisher during Carrie Fisher Sighting at Chasen's Restaurant in Beverly Hills - April 8, 1975 at Chasen's Restaurant in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Carrie Fisher and Paul Simon (Photo by Tom Wargacki/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - CIRCA 1980: Paul Simon and Carrie Fisher circa 1980 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Platzer/IMAGES/Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY - SEPTEMBER 16: Carrie Fisher attends Giorgio Armani Fashion Show on September 16, 1980 at the RCA Promenade in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Dr. Arnold Klein and Carrie Fisher (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - CIRCA 1989: Brother and sister actors Carrie Fisher and Todd Fisher pose for a portrait at an event in circa 1989 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Maureen Donaldson/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Carrie Fisher during 5th Annual American Cinematheque Ball Honoring Ron Howard at Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, CA, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Gore Vidal and Carrie Fisher during New Yorker-Tina Brown All Movie Issue Party at Bel-Air Hotel in Bel-Air, California, United States. (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)
Carrie Fisher during Artists Rights Foundation Honors Steven Spielberg with 1995 John Huston Award at Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Carrie Fisher during 'Stealing Beauty' Beverly Hills Premiere at Cecchi Gori Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 2: Actress Beverly D'Angelo, actress Carrie Fisher and actress Holly Hunter attend the Third Annual Premiere Women in Hollywood Luncheon on December 2, 1996 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
WESTWOOD, CA - JANUARY 18: Actress Carrie Fisher and actress Sharon Stone attend the 'Star Wars' 20th Anniversary Screening on January 18, 1997 at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
384639 01: 6/8/98 Westwood, CA. Carrie Fisher at the premiere of 'Six Days, Seven Nights.' (Photo by Brenda Chase/Liaison)
Carrie Fisher during 22nd Annual Women In Film Crystal Awards - June 19, 1998 at Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
(Original Caption) Carrie Fisher arrives. (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Arrival of Carrie Fisher with her daughter. (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Cindy Crawford, Earwin 'Magic' Johnson and Carrie Fisher. (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)
Paul Mazursky & Carrie Fisher during Center to Prevent Handgun Violence Dinner at Pickford Estate in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Carrie Fisher during American Film Institute Honors Harrison Ford with 2000 Lifetime Achievement Award at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Carrie Fisher during 11th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Actress Carrie Fisher and Producer David Geffen attend the Beverly Hills Premiere of 'A Time to Kill' on July 9, 1996 at Academy Theatre in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Carrie Fisher (Photo by Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage)
Carrie Fisher during amfAR's 'Honoring With Pride' Benefit at Chelsea Piers in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by J. Vespa/WireImage)
Carrie Fisher during Cirque du Soleil Presents Its Latest Touring Production, 'Varekai' at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MAY 20: Actor and author, Carrie Fisher attends the 38th Annual City of Lights Gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on May 20, 2004 in Beverly Hills, California. Actor Carrie Fisher was honored at the event. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images).
Pell James and Carrie Fisher during 'Undiscovered' Los Angeles Premiere - Red Carpet at Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by J.Sciulli/WireImage for LIONSGATE)
WESTWOOD, CA - MAY 1: Actress Carrie Fisher arrives at the Geffen Playhouse for Backstage at the Geffen Playhouse's Annual Gala featuring a star-studded lineup of celebrity performers and VIP guests celebrating the Geffen's past and present in the newly renovated Geffen Playhouse on May 1, 2006 in Westwood, California. (Photo by John M. Heller/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 1: Actress Carrie Fisher (R) embraces her mother Debbie Reynolds while walking down the red carpet to participate in 'Jane. Well Done. A Celebrity Roast of Jane Fonda' event at the Georgia Aquarium, June 1, 2006 in Atlanta, Georgia. The event benefits the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention. (Photo by Erik Lesser/Getty Images)
STUDIO CITY, CA - AUGUST 13: Actress Carrie Fisher arrives at the Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner held at CBS Radford Studios on August 13, 2006 in Studio City, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Carrie Fisher (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
WASHINGTON - JANUARY 18: Author Nikki Grimes attends Pajama Program's Obama Pajama Party Inauguration Charity Ball to Benefit Children in Need at Ronald Reagan Building on January 18, 2009 in Washington , D.C. (Photo by Ilya Dreyvitser/WireImage for Pajama Program)
Carrie Fisher arrives for the 'Wishful Drinking' - Los Angeles Premiere at Linwood Dunn Theater at the Pickford Center for Motion Study on December 7, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jonathan Leibson/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 23: Actress Carrie Fisher (R) arrives to the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Hall Pass' on February 23, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 03: Carrie Fisher attends the 2011 Silver Hill Hospital gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on November 3, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JUNE 16: Actress Carrie Fisher speaks onstage during the 40th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on June 16, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. 23774_001_2260.JPG (Photo by Michael Buckner/WireImage)
NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 14: (L-R) Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds attend the all-star gala and press preview of Profiles in History's Debbie Reynolds-The Auction Finale at Debbie Reynolds's Dance Studio on May 14, 2014 in North Hollywood, California. (Photo by Earl Gibson III/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: Actress Carrie Fisher attends the Midnight Mission's 100 year anniversary Golden Heart Gala held at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on September 30, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 25: Honoree Debbie Reynolds (L) and actress Carrie Fisher pose in the press room at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 25, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
SANTA MONICA, CA - FEBRUARY 19: Actress Carrie Fisher attends the US-Ireland Alliance Pre-Academy Awards Honors event at Bad Robot on February 19, 2015 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Actress Carrie Fisher attends the 7th annual Governors Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on November 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 16: Carrie Fisher attends the European Premiere of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' at Leicester Square on December 16, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 14: Carrie Fisher and her dog Gary attend the 'Mademoiselle (Agassi/The Handmaiden)') Premiere at the annual 69th Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 14, 2016 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 10: Actress Carrie Fisher attends the 54th New York Film Festival 'Bright Lights' screening at Alice Tully Hall on October 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by CJ Rivera/FilmMagic)
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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.

32 PHOTOS
Carrie Fisher through the years
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Carrie Fisher through the years
(Original Caption) Debbie Reynolds-Eddie Fisher with daughter Carrie Frances born October 21, 1956' (Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Hollywood: Eddie Fisher holds his two children, Todd 1, and Carrie, 2, (R), while shopping for toys just before his departure for Las Vegas and a possible rendezvous with actress Elizabeth Taylor. Fisher has not been photographed with the children born to his ex-wife, Debbie Reynolds, since September 1958.
12th February 1972: American actress Debbie Reynolds with her daughter Carrie Fisher. (Photo by Dove/Evening Standard/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Carrie Fisher Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
American actress Carrie Fisher on the set of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope written, directed and produced by Georges Lucas. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
American actors Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford on the set of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back directed by Irvin Kershner. (Photo by Lucasfilm/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Carrie Fisher at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, New York (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Star Wars trilogy costars Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. (Photo by Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)
Peter Weller and Carrie Fisher during Giorgio Armani Fashion Show - September 19, 1980 at RCA Promenade in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 2002: Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher on Fifth Ave outside The Plaza hotel. They were in town for the movie 'Star Wars.' (Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Carrie Fisher -- Carrie Fisher played photographer last night at xenon. For most of this year she played Princess Lea (check Sp) in revenge of the Jedi, The final movie in the star wars Triogy. She was quiet about the out Come of the movie, June 03, 1982. (Photo by Vernon Shibla/New York Post Archives / (c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)
Paul Simon and Carrie Fisher at the Paul Simon's Central Park West Apartment in New York City, New York (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
NEW YORK - AUGUST 28: American actress, novelist and screenwriter Carrie Fisher poses for a portrait on August 28,1987 in New York City, New York. (Photo by Catherine McGann/Getty Images)
CA.Apla96.#1.GF. David Geffen (left) & Carrie Fisher dance at afterÂparty following Commitment to Life benefit held at Universal Ampitheatre Thursday niteÂÂHiggins story (Photo by Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 03: Carrie Fisher is on hand at Avery Fisher Hall for the Film Society of Lincoln Center's gala tribute to Mike Nichols. (Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Carrie Fisher during 'Stateside' Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals at The Crest Theatre in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 20: Carrie Fisher book signing in Santa Monica, United States on January 20, 2005 - Carrie Fisher and her book 'The Best Awful' at the Barnes & Nobel bookstore, California. (Photo by Mike FANOUS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - JUNE 09: (L-R) Actors Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford speak onstage during the 33rd AFI Life Achievement Award tribute to George Lucas at the Kodak Theatre on June 9, 2005 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - JUNE 09: Actors Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher pose at the dinner during the 33rd AFI Life Achievement Award tribute to George Lucas at the Kodak Theatre on June 9, 2005 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)
Actress Carrie Fisher poses during a dress rehearsal of her play 'Wishful Drinking,' at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood. (Photo by Axel Koester/Corbis via Getty Images)
Century City, CA. Actress & author Carrie Fisher will be one of the judges on Fox's reality competition 'On the Lot' which sought submissions from aspiring filmmakers, selecting 50 to appear on the show. These semiÂfinalists will discover the magic of moviemaking when they are brought to Los Angeles to visit a realÂlife film set for the first time and must endure a rigorous Hollywood Boot Camp, says the Fox website. Carrie Fisher, one of the judges talks about the movie biz, and, perhaps, the show for a sunday Q&A at the Intercontinental Hotel in Century City. (Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 11: American Actress, Carrie Fisher poses for a portrait during her 'Wishful Drinking' tour at the Sydney Observatory Hotel on October 11, 2010 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 07: Actress Carrie Fisher arrives at the premiere of HBO's documentary 'Wishful Drinking' at Linwood Dunn Theater at the Pickford Center for Motion Study on December 7, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Caulfield/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 07: Actress Carrie Fisher arrives at the 4th Annual Logo's 'NewNowNext Awards' 2011 at Avalon on April 7, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 03: (L-R) Actress and author Carrie Fisher with daughter Billie Lourd attend the 2011 Silver Hill Hospital gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on November 3, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/FilmMagic)
TODAY -- Pictured: Carrie Fisher appears on NBC News' 'Today' show (Photo by Charles Sykes/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 04: Actress Carrie Fisher speaks onstage during the Comedy Central Roast of Roseanne Barr at Hollywood Palladium on August 4, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: (L-R) Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill attend the Midnight Mission Golden Heart awards gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on September 30, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 16: Carrie Fisher attends the European Premiere of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' at Leicester Square on December 16, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
Carrie Fisher poses for cameras as she arrives at the European Premiere of Star Wars, The Force Awakens in Leicester Square, London, December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Paul Hackett/File Photo
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 10: Actress Carrie Fisher attends the 54th New York Film Festival 'Bright Lights' screening at Alice Tully Hall on October 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by CJ Rivera/FilmMagic)
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(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Marla Dickerson)


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