A newly-shared image by Stars Wars concept artist Phil Saunders reveals an alternative death scene for Princess Leia. We don’t know how close this concept came to fruition, but it may have been an idea proposed before the tragic passing of Carrie Fisher.
Given that in the Star Wars sequels, Harrison Ford’s Han Solo died in the first – The Force Awakens and Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker died in the second – The Last Jedi, it’s likely that Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia was always supposed to die in The Rise of Skywalker. However, Fisher’s real-life death meant that she was not in the film as much as originally planned and that Leia’s death scene was also probably different to how it was originally intended.
In the finished film, Leia channels her Jedi powers into reaching her son Ben Solo/Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) while he battles Rey (Daisy Ridley), which takes all of the strength she has left. She then lies down in a darkened room and passes away, while R2D2 looks over her. Both Kylo Ren and Rey feel the shift in the force when she dies.
In the image that Phil Saunders shared on his Instagram, Leia lies in her brightly-light stateroom, while an unspecified droid looks over her. At the moment of her passing, a comet was supposed to streak past the window. Given that this concept shows Leia’s face clearly, it may have been an idea from before Carrie Fisher’s passing led to alternatives having to be found.
You can see the image here;
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The Rise of Skywalker was not received well critically, and has a “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While fans questioned lots of the decisions that were made and how many of the characters were handled, JJ Abrams and the rest of the team had their hands forced in terms of Leia’s death and did their best under the circumstances.