A moment featuring a young Princess Leia in Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker could not have been done without the help of the late Carrie Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd. In a new interview with Yahoo Entertainment, the film’s visual effects supervisor Patrick Tubach shared new details about Lourd taking on her mother's final image.
Fisher, who rose to fame as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy, returned to the franchise as the newly-titled General Leia Organa for 2015’s The Force Awakens. The actress died at age 60 in December of 2016 of a heart attack, after filming scenes for follow-up film The Last Jedi. Though Fisher died before filming of Rise of Skywalker, her character appears in the film via unused footage from the previous two installments, and, in one flashback moment, is seen as a younger woman training with brother Luke (Mark Hamill).
Hamill reportedly filmed the scene and was later deaged using computer technology, but for Leia, the filmmakers decided to have Lourd take on the role.
“It was an emotional thing for everybody to see her in that position,” Tubach told Yahoo Entertainment. “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.”
Co-writer Chris Terrio previously told The Hollywood Reporter that the image of Leia in the flashback scene came from The Return of the Jedi.
So far, Lourd has not spoken out about standing in for her mom during this flashback moment. She honored her mother around the time of the Rise of Skywalker release on Instagram, sharing an image of her with Fisher on the red carpet at the premiere of The Force Awakens.
Though Lourd looks strikingly similar to a young Fisher, Lourd also plays a different character in the Star Wars universe: Lieutenant Connix, who is not related to Leia in the films.
“When Leia was around, there wasn’t as much room for my mom – for Carrie,” Lourd explained in her essay. “As a child, I couldn’t understand why people loved Leia as much as they did. 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. I just wanted my mom — the one who lived on Earth, not Tatooine.”
It was only later, after Lourd went to Comic Con with her mother as a child, did she come to understand what Leia meant to fans, as well as the connection between Fisher and her iconic character.
“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. She knows what she wants, and she gets it. She doesn’t need anyone to defend her, because she defends herself,” Lourd explained. “And no one could have played her like my mother. Princess Leia is Carrie Fisher. Carrie Fisher is Princess Leia. The two go hand in hand.”
Now, Lourd is also an integral part to Leia’s — and her mother’s — legacy.
Refinery29 reached out to Lourd for comment.