Billie Lourd Played Leia In The Rise Of Skywalker Scene
Production secrets continue to eke out regarding Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, none more poignant than the news that Billie Lourd stood in for her late mother Carrie Fisher during a particular scene of Episode IX.
Billie Filled In For Carrie
When Carrie Fisher passed away in December 2016, the current forces behind the Star Wars franchise made it clear that the actor wouldn’t be replaced by a new performer — Meryl Streep, for example — or a digital avatar for the final episode in the sequel trilogy, The Rise of Skywalker. Instead, director J.J. Abrams used eight-minutes of extra material from his 2015 film, The Force Awakens, as well as Rian Johnson’s 2017 follow-up, The Last Jedi, to craft a send-off to Fisher’s signature alter ego, General Leia Organa.
That said, there is one crucial sequence in the film where Leia is (briefly) portrayed by another actor. Midway through the movie, we jump back in time to the post-Return of the Jedi era, when Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) trains his Force-sensitive sister in the ways of the Jedi.
Speaking with Yahoo Entertainment, ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Patrick Tubach says that Hamill played the “young” Luke in that sequence, and had his youthful appearance restored thanks to the magic of de-aging technology. But they also needed an actress to perform Leia’s role, 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.”
How’d They Do That?
I wondered how they did that!
“The idea was to provide this great surprise where they take the helmets off, and you see Luke and Leia’s younger faces. We scoured outtakes from the original movies, and we took some pieces and then had to try and figure out the technical aspect of putting that shot together.”
Roger Guyett, visual effects supervisor
It was an amazing scene made more interesting by the family connection. I can’t wait to check it out again!
Thinking about Carrie, EW.com added:
Before The Rise of Skywalker hit theaters, Lourd wrote an essay for Time, opening up about the experiencing of filming Star Wars without her mom and why she decided to reprise her role as Lieutenant Connix.
“I knew it would be one of the most painful, difficult things I would ever do, but I said yes for her — for my mom,” she said. “For Leia. For everyone Leia means so much to. For everyone Leia gives strength to.”