Sharing a still of her mother captured on the set of The Empire Strikes Back, Lourd captioned the photo with an emoji message reading “no one’s ever really gone,” a phrase borrowed from Leia’s brother Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in Rise of Skywalker.
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Lourd appeared opposite her mother across the sequel trilogy, where she plays Resistance Lieutenant Connix. Fisher’s inclusion in Rise was made possible through the use of repurposed footage shot by returning writer-director J.J. Abrams on 2015’s The Force Awakens.
“The character of Leia is really the heart of this story. We realized we could not possibly tell this story without Leia,” Abrams said onstage at D23. “We had footage from Episode VII that we could use in a new way. So, we were able to use Carrie in a new way.”
Abrams consulted with Lourd and obtained her blessing before incorporating the unused footage to include Fisher, whose Leia shared corrupted son Ben (Adam Driver) — now the mask-wearing Kylo Ren — with Han Solo (Harrison Ford).
“We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” Abrams said in a statement published last July. “Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker Saga without her eluded us. We were never going to recast, or use a CG character. With the support and blessing from her daughter, Billie, we have found a way to honor Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII.”
Fisher last filmed on The Last Jedi before her death at the age of 60 in December 2016. For Hamill, the star believes his late friend and co-star would have gotten a “real kick” out of appearing in the conclusion of the Skywalker Saga posthumously.
“Harrison was more prominent in the first of the sequels, then I was more prominent, and Carrie was meant to be more prominent in the third,” Hamill told Den of Geek earlier this year. “I’m glad they found a way to do that, and something tells me that she’d get a real kick out of the fact that she had a hit movie years after she left us, because that was just her. I like to think that would please her, but nothing would be better than having her here.”
Starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Kelly Marie Tran, Anthony Daniels, Keri Russell, Richard E. Grant, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Joonas Suotamo, Ian McDiarmid, Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens December 20.
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