Carrie Fisher died before filming on The Rise of Skywalker started

While the world mourned the death of Carrie Fisher, her Star Wars costar Daisy Ridley had to keep the legend’s spirit alive.

Ridley, 27, stars opposite Fisher in the upcoming The Rise of Skywalker, which was shot after Fisher died of cardiac arrest at the age of 60 in December 2016. But while Fisher was tragically not around to film, director J.J. Abrams found a way to bring back her character by using old footage of Fisher from previous movies in the trilogy.

“It was definitely difficult,” Ridley told British GQ in the magazine’s January/February cover story of filming scenes involving Fisher. “It was emotional doing it, because you’re also weirdly picturing her. You’re not picturing how the scene is going to be.”

“It’s really sad,” Ridley added. “And it’s going to be really sad. But also, it’s amazing that they have all this footage that is woven into the story in such a strange way.”

One of the scenes that’s been frequently teased in the trailers show Ridley and Fisher sharing an emotional hug.

General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) in STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
| Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Abrams previously explained to EW how Fisher’s old footage ended up in Rise of Skywalker.

“Saying Leia had passed away, or that she was off somewhere else, felt like a cheat,” Abrams said. “Then I remembered we had these scenes that we hadn’t used from Episode VII. It was like finding this impossible answer to this impossible question. Suddenly we had classic Carrie in these amazing moments. So when you see in the movie, it’s her, she’s there. It’s not like there’s some crazy digital trickery. She’s just in the movie.”

He also opened up about needing to keep Leia in the story during a panel at D23 earlier this year.

“The character of Leia is really, in a way, the heart of this story. We realized we could not possibly tell the end of these nine films without Leia,” he said about Carrie Fisher’s iconic character.

Starring Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac, the movie finishes up the Skywalker saga that George Lucas kicked off with 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters Dec. 20.