Billie Lourd, the daughter of the later Carrie Fisher, was beautifully involved in Leia’s final sequence during Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
SCREENRANT – Billie Lourd’s Star Wars character is involved in Leia Organa’s final moments, giving the character’s death a deeper significance during Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Lourd is the daughter of Carrie Fisher, the beloved actress behind the role of Princess Leia. Fisher reprised her iconic role starting with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but the actress tragically passed away before the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Lourd’s appearance in 2015’s The Force Awakens marked her first official acting gig. She played the role of Lieutenant Kaydel Ko Connix, a member of the Resistance who worked closely with General Leia Organa. That same year, Lourd acquired her first TV gig with Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens. Lourd reprised her role as Lieutenant Connix for The Last Jedi before appearing in multiple seasons of American Horror Story and the film, Booksmart. The actress may not have had the most prominent role in The Rise of Skywalker but she was tasked with one of the most heart-wrenching moment
ESQUIRE – Next to the Death Star run, Star Wars: Rogue One almost had the best ending of any Star Wars story. After a tragic-but-beautiful ending for Jyn Erso and friends, we finally got to see Darth Vader go beast mode on a bunch of tiny, non-force-using dudes.
But, in one odd moment, Rogue One ends with a Leia Organa cameo that feels a little off. The filmmakers CGI-pasted ’80s-era Carrie Fisher on a double’s face, and the results are what you’d expect: A weird, glossy sheen on Leia’s face, and buggy eyes that look taken from a poorly-rendered video game cutscene.
Thankfully, among Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’s imperfections, trying some CGI buffoonery to recreate the departed Carrie Fisher was not one of them. Director J.J. Abrams faced a very difficult challenge in concluding Leia Organa’s story after the tragic death of Carrie Fisher in December of 2016. Thankfully, the last film in the Skywalker Saga gives Leia Organa a solid ending, revealing that she was a lightsaber-wielding Jedi, and ended up giving her life to save her son, Ben Solo. We already know that the footage of older Leia was taken from unused footage from The Force Awakens—which is something that director J.J. Abrams recently spoke to Vanity Fair about:
“We weren’t going to recast, we couldn’t do a CG character,” Abrams said. “We looked at the footage we had not used in The Force Awakens, and we realized we had a number of shots that we could actually use. It was a bit like having a dozen pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and then having to make other pieces around it and paint a cohesive image from these separate pieces.”
Later in the Vanity Fair story, Abrams and The Rise of Skywalker’s visual effects team explain that they actually did the opposite of what Rogue One went for—they created a digital body for Leia, and kept her facial expressions the same. As the leader of the visual effects team, Roger Guyett, explained: “I always thought, when we were doing these shots, that everyone’s looking at her face. That was the thing that we held onto, and then we fixed everything else.”
But what about The Rise of Skywalker’s flashback scene, where we see Luke train Leia in lightsaber combat after the events of The Return of the Jedi? In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, The Rise of Skywalker’s co-writer, Chris Terrio, explained that the Episode IX crew raided the Lucasfilm archives—taking audio and images from The Return of the Jedi:
“We had all the audio that Leia says at our disposal, and of course, every word that she says on camera is really Carrie, Terrio said. “We also had access to the dailies from the original trilogy, and in the flashback of Luke and Leia, that image of Carrie comes from Return of the Jedi. So, we had access to everything in the archive, which turned out to be super helpful.”
Not to mention, the body stand-in for the flashback is none other than Billie Lourd, Carrie Fisher’s daughter. Lourd already had a small part in the new trilogy as Lieutenant Connix, but The Rise of Skywalker’s filmmakers thought it would be especially fitting to have her stand in for her mother. Visual effects supervisor Patrick Tubach told Yahoo Entertainment:
“Billie was playing her mother,” Tubach said. “It was a poignant thing, and something that nobody took lightly — that she was willing to stand in for her mom.”
Leia’s story in The Rise of Skywalker is one of the real triumphs of Episode IX. And if the movie was to get anything right, it was giving our princess, our general a proper ending.
SPOILER ALERT: This article contains major spoilers for the new movie, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”
PAGE SIX – Carrie Fisher’s generosity knew no bounds — which is why, her brother, Todd, told The Post, “She never liked the idea that Christmas was just for a short period of time. In her mind, everybody should be giving gifts 24/7. That way we can shop all the time without any guilt. Shopping therapy was actually one of the best things for Carrie. It wasn’t so good for the bills later, but it was almost calming and soothing to her.”
Every year, the actress would buy Todd “a really great jacket. It started back when she first had her own money, right after ‘Star Wars.’ I have a closet full of memories … She gave me unbelievable gifts.”
Todd had already purchased a Christmas present for Carrie when the actress boarded a flight from London to Los Angeles on Dec. 23, 2016, planning to celebrate with her family. But Carrie, 60, suffered a heart attack on the plane, went into a coma and died four days later.
“She collected paintings of ugly children,” he explained, noting his sibling’s dark sense of humor. “I happened to stumble on a very high-end oil painting of a very unattractive child. It was waiting for her, but she never got off the plane. So that painting now hangs on a wall, with the rest of her paintings.”
Christmas isn’t the same for the Fisher family now. One day after Carrie passed away, her mother, screen legend Debbie Reynolds, had a stroke and died at age 84. Her last words were, “I want to be with Carrie,” Todd revealed in his 2018 book “My Girls.”
Now, Todd and his wife, Catherine, are readying the family compound in Las Vegas to celebrate the holidays without the two women he was so close to.
“I have my mother’s Christmas tree up year-round in my house in Las Vegas,” he says, of the tradition that “Singin’ in the Rain” star Reynolds started decades ago. “Carrie’s tree is still up year-round in her house.”
WASHINGTON POST – This was supposed to be Carrie Fisher’s movie — her center spotlight after the previous two films in Disney’s modern Star Wars trilogy successively featured Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill, her castmates across four decades.
“It’s nothing short of heartbreaking that she wasn’t here to collaborate on this film, because we couldn’t possibly tell the story without her,” J.J. Abrams says of directing “The Rise of Skywalker” without Fisher, who died three years ago this month.
Ever since her death, those creatively involved with the Skywalker Saga — which seemingly concludes with the opening of “Rise” this weekend — have tried to honor Fisher’s memory while also wrestling with how to present her iconic character, Leia Organa, on screen.
The starkest misstep since was a digital motion-capture representation of a young Leia briefly in the one-off film “Rogue One” — an eerie effect that many fans thought fell squarely into the “uncanny valley.”
Lucasfilm announced last year that Fisher would appear in “Rise,” but assuaged fans about how the posthumous “performance” would be handled.
“We would never consider recasting,” Abrams said this month, speaking by phone from the L.A. area. “And we wouldn’t want to do a digital character.”
The late actress left the director an uncanny message in her autobiography.
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER – It sure sounds like Carrie Fisher knew something no one else did at the time.
J.J. Abrams on Monday dropped by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and talked about his upcoming Star Wars film, The Rise of Skywalker, and an uncanny message the late actress left to him that he now understands.
While talking about how much he missed Fisher, who died in 2016 at the age of 60, Abrams recalled working with her on his first Star Wars film, The Force Awakens.
It is common knowledge now that Princess Leia appears in the new film via unused Force Awakens footage, but obviously, no one knew that would be the case at the time of that film’s release. What’s more, no one could have known Abrams would return to direct Skywalker — that is except maybe Fisher.
“I wasn’t supposed to work on this film,” Abrams begins. “She passed away before Last Jedi was released. She wrote this autobiography, The Princess Diarist, and I remember reading in the end, a ‘special thanks to J.J, Abrams for putting up with me twice.’ I had never worked with her before Force Awakens and I wasn’t supposed to direct Episode IX. It was a very Carrie thing to write something like that and to somehow know. It was really strange.”
Abrams also told Colbert that The Rise of Skywalker was completed Sunday.
The Disney film is due in theaters Dec. 20.
Watch the segment below.