J.J. Abrams said the most crucial thing to do with Episode IX is to make Princess Leia actress Carrie Fisher proud, who died in December 2016, before the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi directed by Rian Johnson. The already shot and unused footage from The Force Awakens is being repurposed in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Episode IX is the last movie of the Skywalker Saga and easily the most important movie that concludes and ends the story.
Fisher’s unused footage is said to be roughly eight minutes long from The Force Awakens. Abrams is not sure if Fisher’s family had seen her performance in The Rise of Skywalker. We would be seeing Billie Lourd, Fisher’s daughter as Resistance’s Lieutenant Connix for the third time. When asked about the family’s reaction, this is what Abrams told Esquire,
I don’t want to talk about that, per se, because it just — I don’t think it’s quite my place, although I would love to go and talk about it, but I will say that nothing has been more important to me than making sure we do something that Carrie herself would have been happy with, and proud of. And I feel like we’ve done that.
In Disney’s bi-annual D23 Expo in August, Abrams said the story of Skywalker needs Princess Leia and she is the heart of the story. Leia Organa was Rebel Alliance’s greatest leaders and is the mother to Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who is the supreme leader of the First Order from the dark side. Leia has been an inspiration to Rey (Daisy Ridley), who has to fight against the dark side.
Abrams has featured her in the movie without using any CGI or digital technology, but simply took the help of footage that was not part of the final cut of The Force Awakens. Abrams said on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,
We knew there was no way we could finish this Skywalker saga without Leia, it was impossible. We knew we would never want to do a digital Leia, and of course, couldn’t recast it, and then I remembered we had these scenes that we’d shot for Force Awakens that we’d never used. Which at the time I was really upset that we weren’t using them because it was Carrie and it was Leia and how do you not use them, but it just didn’t work in the movie.
And weirdly those scenes were material that we 100% realized could be used to tell her story in this film, so every time you’re seeing Leia in scenes with [other] characters, it’s Carrie in this movie. I still can’t quite believe that she’s gone because we’ve been working on these scenes in editorial and she’s as there as anyone. It’s really uncanny.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is releasing on December 20, 2019. The movie casts Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, Billy Dee Williams, and Adam Driver. It is directed by J.J. Abrams on characters based on George Lucas.