Carrie Fisher’s untimely passing left a void in the Star Wars universe. J.J. Abrams said he wouldn’t use digital effects to include General Leia in The Rise of Skywalker, and this left people scratching their heads over who played her during the Jedi training scene.
Well, if you ask a question, you get an answer.
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ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Patrick Tubach says that they needed an actress to play young Leia, someone whose face would be digitally replaced by a younger version of Fisher in the finished film. When the time came to shoot that scene, Abrams decided to keep the part in the family by asking Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd — who also plays Resistance lieutenant Kaydel Ko Connix in the sequel trilogy — to take on the mantle of Leia. “Billie was playing her mother,” Tubach reveals, confirming rumors that first surfaced online this past spring. “It was a poignant thing, and something that nobody took lightly — that she was willing to stand in for her mom.” . Lourd’s performance as Leia lasts mere seconds in terms of screentime, but Tubach and the rest of Rise of Skywalker’s visual effects team understood the drama of the moment. “It was an emotional thing for everybody to see her in that position. It felt great for us, too. If you’re going to have someone play [Fisher’s] part, it’s great that it’s [Billie] because there are a lot of similarities between them that we were able to draw from. The real challenge was just making the Leia footage we had to work with fit in that scene.” (As far as where the footage of the young Leia comes from, Rise of Skywalker co-writer, Chris Terrio, recently told The Hollywood Reporter that the filmmakers used images from Return of the Jedi.) . . “The truth is that Carrie was a friend of J.J. and Billie is a friend of J.J. They talked a lot about that, and I think the heart of it is the utmost respect for Carrie and her memory and her performance.”
Buzzfeed reports that J.J. Abrams chose Billie Lourd to play General Leia after the scenes that revealed Leia was indeed a Jedi — which explains why she was qualified to train Rey.
The special effects team needed someone whose face was similar to Carrie Fisher’s so they could superimpose the actor’s face into the footage. Lourd was the obvious choice for duh reasons.
Lourd also played Lieutenant Kaydel Ko Connix in the Skywalker Saga (that’s what these last three films are called, FYI). Lourd and Fisher had several scenes together in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi because Lourd wanted her future children to someday be able to see her and their grandmother at work together.
The scenes of General Leia as a Jedi were already awesome, but this touching detail adds a new dimension to these scenes.
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