Carrie Fisher’s sudden death in 2016 surprised the entire world, but it hit the Star Wars fandom particularly hard given the actress’ connection to the franchise and the plans for General Leia Organa’s involvement in future films.
After initial uncertainty whether Fisher would appear in Episode 9, it was eventually announced that Leia would, in fact, return, and at this year’s Star Wars Celebration, The Rise of Skywalker director J. J. Abrams spoke candidly about how that’s going to happen.
Speaking on a panel about the upcoming film, Abrams explained how, rather than using CGI to recreate Fisher’s likeness, her scenes in The Rise of Skywalker will all be crafted from unused footage of the actress pulled from both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi:
“It was impossible. There was no way. What are you gonna do? You can’t recast that part, and you’re not just going to have her disappear.
The idea was what if we could write scenes around her, so she could be in the movie, and we have her performance. Every day it hits me that she’s not here, but it’s so surreal because we’re working with her still. She’s in scenes. Princess Leia lives in this film in a way that is kind of mind-blowing to me.”
Given Luke Skywalker’s death in the last film and the limited amount of footage of Fisher that Abrams had to work with, it’s more than likely that The Rise of Skywalker will feature some sort of heroic, in-universe sendoff for Leia so that she might join reunite with her brother as part of the Force when the film hits theatres December 20.