Those who have seen the trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (or the film itself, as it officially opened today) know that Carrie Fisher appears in the film even though she tragically passed away in December 2016 before filming her scenes. Rather than go the Rogue One route of making a CGI copy of Fisher, director J.J. Abrams reverse-engineered scenes with Leia by repurposing deleted scenes from The Force Awakens featuring the actress to conclude General Leia’s story (with her family’s blessing).
And according to the film’s screenwriter, there’s even more footage featuring Fisher that didn’t make it into The Rise of Skywalker’s final cut. Speaking with The Wrap, writer Chris Terrio explained that he watched Fisher’s dailies from The Force Awakens to determine which outtakes could be used to give her character the proper sendoff — and they couldn’t use it all.
“That was the very beginning of the process, sitting with Carrie’s dailies, figuring out what could be used … how do we re-contextualize this footage to make it work with this new story,” Terrio said. “There is stuff out there … that didn’t quite make it in, in fact one or two scenes I really liked that didn’t make it in, but to keep the film moving, I totally understand the reasons why those things were cut. But there is certainly other glimpses of Carrie that didn’t make it.”
Terrio added that the filmmakers opted not to use a voice double, and at no point in the film is Fisher’s performance digitally altered or manipulated — it’s really her.
“Every time you see her speaking, that’s really Carrie speaking. We didn’t use any on-camera lines that she didn’t say,” he explained. “It was important to us that every time Leia says a line, it was really a line that Carrie said and that the way we created the scene around her, her acting intention was relatively intact.”
In a separate interview with the Los Angeles Times, Abrams said: “I think the key to making it work was the performances of the other actors because Carrie was great in the footage, but would it work? Would it feel like it was rhythmically happening? And I think it does.”
So, does this technique work? Does The Rise of Skywalker provide a fitting and respectful conclusion to Leia’s arc? It’s in theaters now, so you can see for yourself.