The Late Carrie Fisher Is the Top-Billed Actor in ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’
Director J.J. Abrams has called General Leia “the heart of this story” — that being Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the ninth film in the original Star Wars saga. But Carrie Fisher passed away following a heart attack back in 2016, shortly after completing filming on the previous Star Wars, The Last Jedi. Abrams was able to include Fisher in The Rise of Skywalker even though she had died months before production began on the film by reusing deleted footage of General Leia from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Heart of the story or no, no one outside the film knows exactly how much of The Rise of Skywalker Fisher appears in; given that her appearance is supposedly spliced together from unused footage, one wouldn’t imagine it’s a very large performance. But interestingly, when the latest poster for The Rise of Skywalker was released last night, Carrie Fisher was the top-billed actor among the cast, listed first ahead of the franchise’s new generation of stars, and even Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker. Here’s the zoomed in version of that poster:
In the original Star Wars trilogy, Hamill was credited first on the movies’ posters, followed by Harrison Ford and then Fisher. When the trio of classic stars returned for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ford and Hamill flipped spots; now Ford was top-billed and Hamill was second. (Given their relative fame by 2015 — and the size of their roles in the movie — that seems entirely reasonable.) Since Ford’s Han Solo died in The Force Awakens (uh, spoiler alert), Hamill got bumped back up to the top spot on the poster for The Last Jedi. And since Luke died in The Last Jedi (uh, spoiler alert), Fisher posthumously inherited the top slot for The Rise of Skywalker. (Interestingly, Hamill is still second-billed in the film ahead of Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, and the rest of the crew, so his presence should still be pretty substantial as well.)
I suppose if Leia really is “the heart” of Star Wars then it is fitting that in her final appearance she finally gets credited first after spending 40 years in the shadow of the other guys in the cast (at least on the poster credits). This may all be the result of legal wrangling and contract fine print, but it feels right. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens in theaters on December 20.
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