It’s been nearly three years since Carrie Fisher’s sudden passing, but her screen self has lived on in death. The Last Jedi, featuring her last full performance, was released the subsequent December, and she’s even in The Rise of Skywalker, which was originally supposed to feature her prominently. How? A very simple form of movie magic: The filmmakers simply took unused Last Jedi footage and sketched new scenes around them. Of course, that meant some actors had to undergo the strange and emotional experience of filming scenes with a colleague and friend no longer with us.
One of those was Daisy Ridley, the series’ resident Rey, who opened up about filming those scenes to British GQ (as noticed by Entertainment Weekly). The filmmakers were able to get their hands on eight minutes of unused footage, ensuring Princess-turned-General Leia wouldn’t suddenly disappear from the new trilogy’s narrative. But filming those scenes is easier said than done.
“It was definitely difficult,” Ridley admitted to the publication. “It was emotional doing it, because you’re also weirdly picturing her. You’re not picturing how the scene is going to be.”
We already know what Fisher whispered to Ridley in the hug glimpsed in one of the film’s teasers, and though the British actress inevitably found the experience “really sad,” she added that “it’s amazing that they have all this footage that is woven into the story in such a strange way.”
Previously J.J. Abrams, who helmed the forthcoming Rise of Skywalker as well as the seventh episode The Force Awakens, explained to EW their decision to bring Leia back.
“Saying Leia had passed away, or that she was off somewhere else, felt like a cheat,” said Abrams. “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.”
The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20.