The J.J. Abrams-directed Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which re-purposed footage originally captured by Abrams on The Force Awakens to involve the late Carrie Fisher as Resistance leader Leia Organa, reincorporates one deleted scene already included on The Force Awakens Blu-ray special features. Because Leia is mother to starring villain Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Episode IX needed Leia despite Fisher’s death at age 60 in December 2016: “The character of Leia is really the heart of this story. We realized we could not possibly tell this story without Leia,” Abrams said during Disney’s D23 Expo in August. “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.”
In a recently released TV spot for The Rise of Skywalker, above, Leia is seen talking to Jedi-in-training Rey (Daisy Ridley), telling her, “Never underestimate a droid.” Fisher’s footage in this scene was pulled from a deleted scene already present among The Force Awakens’ special features titled “Jakku Message.”
The Force Awakens scene shows a Resistance officer reporting a Jakku village was wiped out, leaving no sign of the map leading to the long-missing Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill).
“If they get to Luke first, we haven’t got a chance,” Leia says before asking about pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), whose X-wing was found destroyed on the desert planet after he escaped the First Order’s clutches with dissenting Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega).
When the officer tells Leia they were unable to recover Poe’s droid BB-8, she responds, “Never underestimate a droid.” Watch the deleted scene below:
Detailing the process with ComicBook.com, Abrams explained The Rise of Skywalker used only footage from The Force Awakens — none from Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi — to “reverse engineer” Leia’s role in what has been billed as the finale to the Skywalker Saga.
“We had, I think, five or six pieces, scenes that Carrie had shot that we didn’t use in the film. So it was easy to find those pieces and identify them and choose takes and look at them and see what we had,” Abrams said. “Then it was about reverse engineering those scenes and writing everything around it. Then when we shot the pieces, lighting everything around Carrie so that we were never using a kind of digital Carrie, we were always using her in her performance.”
This process was “weirdly emotional,” added Abrams, who noted Fisher’s posthumous involvement in Rise of Skywalker is “all about honoring this character and having her be an integral part of the story, but the most important piece wasn’t there.”0comments
“So it was a very strange kind of, I don’t know, negative space thing where we were doing this thing. She was such a personality, her sense of humor as you know was just profound and she was so great and witty,” he continued. “So to not have her there, we all luckily knew her and lover her so it didn’t take much to conjure those feelings of being with her, and there are scenes with actors in this movie where they are in a scene with Carrie, we just shot Carrie’s scenes four years earlier.”