The forthcoming “Star Wars” film will bring both the Skywalker saga and the late Carrie Fisher’s film career to an emotional close when the highly anticipated sequel arrives in theaters later this year.
Fisher, who died in December 2016 of a sudden cardiac arrest, will posthumously appear as General Leia Organa in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” due to director J.J. Abrams repurposing footage left on the cutting room floor from his first foray into the franchise, “The Force Awakens.”
Abrams detailed the painstaking process of honoring Fisher’s legacy in a behind-the-scenes preview of the film for Vanity Fair, in which he also reveals that Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, asked to appear in the film with her late mother.
“I purposely had written her character in scenes without Carrie, because I just didn’t want it to be uncomfortable for her,” the director said of Lourd, who plays a Resistance officer named Lieutenant Connix in the trilogy.
But the 26-year-old actress insisted that he find a way to include her in Fisher’s scenes, which were crafted around the existing footage, for a heartbreaking reason.
“I want to be in scenes with her,” Abrams recalled Lourd telling him in preparation for the film. “I want it for my children when I have kids. I want them to see.”
Filming these moments between mother and daughter was, of course, difficult at times for Lourd, who would from time to time excuse herself from set.
Abrams added: “I know it was hard for her for a while.”
Through movie magic, the final version of the film will feature Lourd and Fisher’s characters interacting and even touching. In the first trailer, we also see Leia pulling in Rey (Daisy Ridley) for an emotional embrace.
“There are moments where they’re talking; there are moments where they’re touching,” Abrams said of Lourd and Fisher’s scenes together. “There are moments in this movie where Carrie is there, and I really do feel there is an element of the uncanny, spiritual, you know, classic Carrie, that it would have happened this way, because somehow it worked. And I never thought it would.”
Six months after Fisher’s death, Lourd revealed her late mother was the one who pushed her to pursue acting after a day on the “Force Awakens” set.
“It’s a lot of pressure, because she had such an incredible legacy,” Lourd said of Fisher in a 2017 interview. “Now I have to uphold that and make it evolve in my own way.”
“The Rise of Skywalker” is due in theaters Dec. 20.