Carrie Fisher may have passed away before she could film her scenes for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker as Leia Organa, but her daughter Billie Lourd was able to keep her legacy alive thanks to the magic of technology.
Warning: This post contains major spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Many of Leia’s scenes scene scattered throughout The Rise of Skywalker were brought to life using unused footage the team put together from The Force Awakens. Much of it was woven into newly-written scenes that made sense in the context of the footage available. But one flashback that needed to occur needed more imagery of Leia that the leftover footage wouldn’t be able to provide.
The scene in question would show how young Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) taught Leia how to use the Force. While ILM Visual Effects was able to easily de-age Hamill for his role, they couldn’t do the same with Fisher. J.J. Abrams wasn’t interested in creating a completely CGIed version of Leia for the scene, so they turned to Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd to act as a body double. In essence, Billie “became” her mother, and took over as Fisher’s face was simply added on after filming.
“It was an emotional thing for everybody to see her in that position,” said ILM Visual Effects supervisor Patrick Tubach, speaking to Yahoo! Entertainment. “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.”
Lourd also appears in the film as Lieutenant Connix, though her brief role as Leia was still a massively important one.
“Billie was playing her mother,” said Tubach. “It was a poignant thing, and something that nobody took lightly — that she was willing to stand in for her mom.”