No matter what grief or trauma Leia faced, she never wavered in her commitment to fighting for freedom in the galaxy, and her battle continues in The Last Jedi. Leia remains in charge of the scattershot Resistance movement, cut off from the Republic, whose leadership and capitol was annihilated in The Force Awakens.
Anyone who expected the Resistance to fill that void and maintain order would be mistaken. “No, no, no. Not at all,” Johnson says. “They’re a small band that’s now cut off, on its own, and hunted when the Republic is shattered. When the First Order did that hit, the Resistance is isolated, and they’re very, very vulnerable. That’s where we pick them up.”
While the galaxy teeters on takeover by the First Order, Leia is also dealing with personal grief, mourning the death of Han Solo – murdered at the hands of their son, Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren. The young man once known as Ben Solo has now fully fallen to the Dark Side, just as Darth Vader, Leia’s father, did a generation before.
“She’s suffered quite a bit,” Johnson adds. “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.”
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