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Will virtual actors take on bigger Star Wars role?

Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa gets a comforting hug from Harrison Ford as Han Solo in “Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens.” (Lucasfilm Photo)

Spoiler Alert! This article discusses characters from recent Star Wars movies and speculates about future movies. Don’t read further if you’re trying to stay totally in the dark about the Star Wars saga from “The Force Awakens” onward.

When Carrie Fisher died last week, it left a huge hole in the hearts of the actress’ admirers, including the fans of Princess Leia … that is, General Leia Organa Solo, the resilient rebel leader in four Star Wars movies.

Fisher had just finished filming scenes for her fifth movie, Episode VIII, which should hit theaters this coming December. For what it’s worth, rumor has it that Leia plays a key part in the plot. (Spoiler here.)

It’s impossible to predict how big a role Leia might have in the final film of Star Wars’ triple trilogy, Episode IX, which is due for release in mid-2019. There could also be spin-off stories, a la “Rogue One,” that will continue even after Episode IX’s release.

If filmmakers were contemplating a role for Fisher in any of those movies, they’re facing a huge hole in their scripts. And one option to fill it could be the strategy that was used in “Rogue One”: creating computer-generated, motion-capture characters.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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