Carrie Fisher is impossible to replace, and we’ve missed her presence the last few years, especially in the midst of The Rise of Skywalker frenzy. In honor of Carrie, Abrams opted to use unseen footage of Leia from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, rather than replacing her with another actress. However, Carrie’s daughter Billie Lourd was able to lend herself to honor her mother in one particular scene of Skywalker.
ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Patrick Tubach spoke with Yahoo Entertainment the flashback scene of Luke and Leia’s Jedi training session.
“Billie was playing her mother,” he confirmed. “It was a poignant thing, and something that nobody took lightly – that she was willing to stand in for her mom.”Yahoo Entertainment
The team used footage of a young Carrie Fisher from Return of the Jedi to recreate her face in the scene, but the movement and actual body is all Billie Lourd. As for young Luke, Mark Hamill himself filled the role, with de-aging technology used on his face. Tubach said seeing Billie play her mother was, “an emotional thing for everybody to see…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.”
Visual effects technology has come so very far – the fact that we can de-age Mark Hamill so believably is astounding. But the Jedi training wasn’t the only interesting trick the visual effects team used in Skywalker. Maz Kanata got a makeover as well, but not in the way you’d think.
Kanata, voiced by Lupita Nyong’o, was completely digital when she was first introduced in The Force Awakens – and in The Rise of Skywalker, Creature and Special Make-Up Effects Creative Supervisor Neal Scanlan created an animatronic puppet Maz.
“In many ways she is the most advanced animatronic that I believe, certainly, that we’ve ever made.” Scanland used Nyong’o’s motion-captured CGI rendering of Maz for reference in creating her movements. They also used a special layering process to make the skin look particularly life-like.
There was also a special process for filming the puppet. The puppet would be in the frame, but the puppeteers would be operating her remotely, wearing a “data suit” that mimicked their motions and brought them to life. “Those puppeteers could be right next to J.J., and they could see Maz and they could be in the scene,” Scanlan elaborated.CinemaBlend
Scanlan told Cinema Blend explained that they chose to used animatronics, so the character felt more intimately in the scene, especially since those scenes typically involved Leia. And understandably so – every moment we got with Carrie was precious, and so making it feel intimate and real truly honored her legacy.