J.J. Abrams is in charge of bringing the Skywalker saga to a close while also maintaining the good will of the fan base. Back in 2015, Abrams had the opportunity to reopen the saga through directing the first of the sequel trilogy, The Force Awakens. The reception of Abrams first Star Wars film was very positive as it broke box office records and is still considered today to be one of the highest grossing films of all time. For his first hack at a Star Wars film, I’d say that is quite impressive.
What’s more impressive is that J.J. now has the biggest job of his life, bringing a 40-year long saga to a screeching halt. His job is enormous but even through the stresses of it all, Abrams finds someone missing on set- Carrie Fisher. One of the biggest tasks lying before him was figuring out how to incorporate Fisher in Episode IX, following her death:
“The idea of having a CG character was off the table. We never even wanted to try. The idea of saying, ‘What if we could actually write scenes around her?’ So, it would be her performance—she’s the movie. The crazy thing is, when I say this, emotionally it’s every day it hits me that she’s not here. But it’s so surreal because we’re working with her still, if that makes sense. She’s so alive in scenes and the craziest part is how not crazy it feels.
As I’ve said we couldn’t [fill the void left by Carrie.] Chris Terrio, the co-writer and Kathy [Kennedy]… as we all talked about how to move on. I mean she was the best. She was glorious. She was amazing. We all just loved her. I knew her from many years before as well. In Episode VII she was the greatest. It was impossible, no way, what are you going to do? You don’t recast that part or certainly have her disappear.”
Carrie certainly can’t ever be replaced. Finally, after much debate and great minds thinking alike, Abrams was able to come up with a solution:
“The weird moment of having had a number of scenes from Force Awakens that had gone unused. Looking at those scenes and starting to understand that there was actually a way to use those scenes to continue the story so that it would be her.”
Shazam! Problem solved. However, some of us may be wondering just exactly how this solution is being implemented. According to an anonymous source from StarWarsNewsNet.com, they said:
“They are combining clips. There will also be no horrible digi-double that was used for Leia in Rogue One. This is all being done in what we call “comp.” There will be some digital work done (ageing, hair) so her face and body match, but not the uncanny valley like Tarkin in Rogue One. They will be changing her hair or adding wrinkles as she looked very different between TFA and TLJ.”
Furthermore, their source shared a “more elegant and technically sophisticated mapped out image of what the overall blueprint/formula they used for many of Leia’s scenes in The Rise of Skywalker ” while showing the combination of scenes used from the Force Awakens:
“The yellow = Carrie Fisher’s The Force Awakens shots/performance.
The blue = a body double/stand-in to establish the physical presence in the environment for The Rise of Skywalker
The red = The new background in The Rise of Skywalker, in this case that jungle planet we have seen in several shots which J.J. Abrams indicated take place at least at the beginning of the movie.”
Not to get too technical, but it sounds like Mark Hamill gave his stamp approval a while ago about Leia’s return:
“I’m glad they found a way to do that, and something tells me that she’d get a real kick out of the fact that she had a hit movie years after she left us, because that was just her. I like to think that would please her, but nothing would be better than having her here.”
In conclusion, “we now know they are not just using unused footage of Fisher, but a body double to place Leia on location, and even incorporating retooled existing in-movie shots from the previous films into The Rise of Skywalker.” No matter how it works out, in the end, I’m just as thrilled and happy as you probably are to be able to see our beloved Princess one last time.
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