Billie Lourd Stood In for Mom Carrie Fisher in 'Poignant' Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Scene
Carrie Fisher — who died in 2016 at 60 — starred in the franchise’s original trilogy as the iconic Princess Leia
Director J.J. Abrams made a sentimental choice when choosing someone to step into the large shoes left by the late Carrie Fisher.
According to Visual Effects Supervisor Patrick Tubach, the director asked the late actress’ daughter Billie Lourd, 27, to shoot a scene as Fisher’s Princess Leia for the latest Star Wars film.
The scene was a flashback to a young Leia training with her brother Luke, played by Mark Hamill. The sequence couldn’t be shot using previous footage featuring Fisher, like the rest of the actress’ scenes in The Rise of Skywalker.
“Billie was playing her mother,” Tubach revealed to Yahoo!. “It was a poignant thing, and something that nobody took lightly — that she was willing to stand in for her mom.”
Footage of Fisher from an earlier Star Wars movie was used to digitally replace Lourd’s face.
“It was an emotional thing for everybody to see her in that position,” Tubach continued. “It felt great for us, too. 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. The real challenge was just making the Leia footage we had to work with fit in that scene.”
Lourd returned for the last movie of the trilogy as Resistance lieutenant Kaydel Ko Connix, a role that she first played in 2015’s The Force Awakens. But while the part meant she shared screentime with Fisher’s most iconic character, Lourd revealed in an essay for Time last year that she didn’t use to love Princess Leia.
“I grew up with three parents: a mom, a dad and Princess Leia,” Lourd began her essay. “I guess Princess Leia was kind of like my stepmom–technically family, but deep down I didn’t really like her…. When Leia was around, there wasn’t as much room for my mom–for Carrie.”
Fisher — who died in 2016 at 60 — starred in the franchise’s original trilogy, which first premiered in 1977 and went on to garner unparalleled success. She later reprised her role in a third trilogy nearly 40 years later.
In the essay, Lourd explained that as a child, she couldn’t understand why people were so in-love with her mother’s iconic character.
“I didn’t want to watch her movie, I didn’t want to dress up like her, I didn’t even want to talk about her,” Lourd wrote. “I just wanted my mom–the one who lived on Earth.”
It wasn’t until Lourd finally sat down to watch the films as a middle schooler that she came to realize why Princess Leia was, in her words, so “cool.”
“I realized then that Leia is more than just a character. She’s a feeling. She is strength. She is grace. She is wit. She is femininity at its finest,” the Scream Queens star wrote. “She knows what she wants, and she gets it. She doesn’t need anyone to defend her, because she defends herself.”
“And no one could have played her like my mother,” she added. “Princess Leia is Carrie Fisher. Carrie Fisher is Princess Leia. The two go hand in hand.”
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is now in theaters.