The sad death of actress Carrie Fisher last December has understandably overshadowed a lot of the publicity for upcoming Star Wars sequel Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, with much of the coverage focused on how the film will incorporate her passing and provide a fitting send-off.
But of course, Leia herself has also been having a tough time of it lately (even for a woman who watched her home planet blown up while still a teenager), as director Rian Johnson explained to EW.
“Her character to some degree or another has been defined by loss through this whole saga, starting with the loss of her home planet,” Johnson said.
“She’s just taken hit after hit, and she’s borne it, and she focuses on moving forward and the task at hand.
“She’s suffered quite a bit. While I was figuring out what her deal was going to be in this film, it’s one of the things I talked about with Carrie before I started writing: where the character would go.”
And as it turns out, the death of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) at their hands of their seemingly lost-forever son Ben (Adam Driver) has led Leia to look for a surrogate family closer to home. Specifically, in the form of Resistance pilot Poe Dameron, as played by Oscar Isaac.
“Poe is in some ways a surrogate son for Leia,” Isaac said. “But also I think she sees in him the potential for a truly great leader of the Resistance and beyond.
“Poe’s arc is one of evolving from a heroic soldier to a seasoned leader, to see beyond the single-mindedness of winning the battle to the larger picture of the future of the galaxy,” the actor continued.
“I think Leia knows she won’t be around forever and she, with tough love, wants to push Poe to be more than the badass pilot, to temper his heroic impulses with wisdom and clarity.”
And alas, this probably will be the last we see of Leia – episode IX is being rewritten out of respect for Fisher’s death, and Lucasfilm have previously said they wouldn’t consider bringing her back with CGI effects – but director Johnson says it became an unintentionally fitting send-off.
“There’s no way that we could’ve known this would’ve been the last Star Wars movie she would be in, so it’s not like we made the film thinking that we were bringing closure to the character,” he said.
“But watching the film, there’s going to be a very emotional reaction to what she does in this movie.”
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is released in UK cinemas on 14th December