We’ve known for awhile now that Carrie Fisher, who died in late 2016, would be appearing in some capacity in the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker thanks to unused footage. Director J.J. Abrams previously said using this footage would be able to “honor” her legacy in the franchise and give closure to her story, but as he now reveals in a new Vanity Fair interview, it also gave him the challenge of a lifetime. “It’s hard to even talk about it without sounding like I’m being some kind of cosmic spiritual goofball, but it felt like we suddenly had found the impossible answer to the impossible question,” Abrams explained. “It was a bizarre kind of left side/right side of the brain sort of Venn diagram thing, of figuring out how to create the puzzle based on the pieces we had.”
For weeks, Abrams was tasked with digging up the old footage of Fisher’s General Leia from The Force Awakens — which were ultimately cut or altered to better fit the script. He then wrote new scenes for The Rise of Skywalker with the sole purpose of including these cutting-room-floor Fisher gems, with one of these scenes being with her daughter Billie Lourd, who plays a Resistance officer. “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,” Abrams added. “And I never thought it would.” Specifically, be prepared to see a moment between Fisher and Lourd where they’re “talking” and “touching,” and also be prepared to bring Kleenex.