Billie Lourd, the daughter of the later Carrie Fisher, was beautifully involved in Leia’s final sequence during Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
SCREENRANT – Billie Lourd’s Star Wars character is involved in Leia Organa’s final moments, giving the character’s death a deeper significance during Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Lourd is the daughter of Carrie Fisher, the beloved actress behind the role of Princess Leia. Fisher reprised her iconic role starting with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but the actress tragically passed away before the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Lourd’s appearance in 2015’s The Force Awakens marked her first official acting gig. She played the role of Lieutenant Kaydel Ko Connix, a member of the Resistance who worked closely with General Leia Organa. That same year, Lourd acquired her first TV gig with Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens. Lourd reprised her role as Lieutenant Connix for The Last Jedi before appearing in multiple seasons of American Horror Story and the film, Booksmart. The actress may not have had the most prominent role in The Rise of Skywalker but she was tasked with one of the most heart-wrenching moment
ESQUIRE – Next to the Death Star run, Star Wars: Rogue One almost had the best ending of any Star Wars story. After a tragic-but-beautiful ending for Jyn Erso and friends, we finally got to see Darth Vader go beast mode on a bunch of tiny, non-force-using dudes.
But, in one odd moment, Rogue One ends with a Leia Organa cameo that feels a little off. The filmmakers CGI-pasted ’80s-era Carrie Fisher on a double’s face, and the results are what you’d expect: A weird, glossy sheen on Leia’s face, and buggy eyes that look taken from a poorly-rendered video game cutscene.
Thankfully, among Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’s imperfections, trying some CGI buffoonery to recreate the departed Carrie Fisher was not one of them. Director J.J. Abrams faced a very difficult challenge in concluding Leia Organa’s story after the tragic death of Carrie Fisher in December of 2016. Thankfully, the last film in the Skywalker Saga gives Leia Organa a solid ending, revealing that she was a lightsaber-wielding Jedi, and ended up giving her life to save her son, Ben Solo. We already know that the footage of older Leia was taken from unused footage from The Force Awakens—which is something that director J.J. Abrams recently spoke to Vanity Fair about:
“We weren’t going to recast, we couldn’t do a CG character,” Abrams said. “We looked at the footage we had not used in The Force Awakens, and we realized we had a number of shots that we could actually use. It was a bit like having a dozen pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and then having to make other pieces around it and paint a cohesive image from these separate pieces.”
Later in the Vanity Fair story, Abrams and The Rise of Skywalker’s visual effects team explain that they actually did the opposite of what Rogue One went for—they created a digital body for Leia, and kept her facial expressions the same. As the leader of the visual effects team, Roger Guyett, explained: “I always thought, when we were doing these shots, that everyone’s looking at her face. That was the thing that we held onto, and then we fixed everything else.”
But what about The Rise of Skywalker’s flashback scene, where we see Luke train Leia in lightsaber combat after the events of The Return of the Jedi? In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, The Rise of Skywalker’s co-writer, Chris Terrio, explained that the Episode IX crew raided the Lucasfilm archives—taking audio and images from The Return of the Jedi:
“We had all the audio that Leia says at our disposal, and of course, every word that she says on camera is really Carrie, Terrio said. “We also had access to the dailies from the original trilogy, and in the flashback of Luke and Leia, that image of Carrie comes from Return of the Jedi. So, we had access to everything in the archive, which turned out to be super helpful.”
Not to mention, the body stand-in for the flashback is none other than Billie Lourd, Carrie Fisher’s daughter. Lourd already had a small part in the new trilogy as Lieutenant Connix, but The Rise of Skywalker’s filmmakers thought it would be especially fitting to have her stand in for her mother. Visual effects supervisor Patrick Tubach told Yahoo Entertainment:
“Billie was playing her mother,” Tubach said. “It was a poignant thing, and something that nobody took lightly — that she was willing to stand in for her mom.”
Leia’s story in The Rise of Skywalker is one of the real triumphs of Episode IX. And if the movie was to get anything right, it was giving our princess, our general a proper ending.
SPOILER ALERT: This article contains major spoilers for the new movie, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”
PAGE SIX – Carrie Fisher’s generosity knew no bounds — which is why, her brother, Todd, told The Post, “She never liked the idea that Christmas was just for a short period of time. In her mind, everybody should be giving gifts 24/7. That way we can shop all the time without any guilt. Shopping therapy was actually one of the best things for Carrie. It wasn’t so good for the bills later, but it was almost calming and soothing to her.”
Every year, the actress would buy Todd “a really great jacket. It started back when she first had her own money, right after ‘Star Wars.’ I have a closet full of memories … She gave me unbelievable gifts.”
Todd had already purchased a Christmas present for Carrie when the actress boarded a flight from London to Los Angeles on Dec. 23, 2016, planning to celebrate with her family. But Carrie, 60, suffered a heart attack on the plane, went into a coma and died four days later.
“She collected paintings of ugly children,” he explained, noting his sibling’s dark sense of humor. “I happened to stumble on a very high-end oil painting of a very unattractive child. It was waiting for her, but she never got off the plane. So that painting now hangs on a wall, with the rest of her paintings.”
Christmas isn’t the same for the Fisher family now. One day after Carrie passed away, her mother, screen legend Debbie Reynolds, had a stroke and died at age 84. Her last words were, “I want to be with Carrie,” Todd revealed in his 2018 book “My Girls.”
Now, Todd and his wife, Catherine, are readying the family compound in Las Vegas to celebrate the holidays without the two women he was so close to.
“I have my mother’s Christmas tree up year-round in my house in Las Vegas,” he says, of the tradition that “Singin’ in the Rain” star Reynolds started decades ago. “Carrie’s tree is still up year-round in her house.”
WASHINGTON POST – This was supposed to be Carrie Fisher’s movie — her center spotlight after the previous two films in Disney’s modern Star Wars trilogy successively featured Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill, her castmates across four decades.
“It’s nothing short of heartbreaking that she wasn’t here to collaborate on this film, because we couldn’t possibly tell the story without her,” J.J. Abrams says of directing “The Rise of Skywalker” without Fisher, who died three years ago this month.
Ever since her death, those creatively involved with the Skywalker Saga — which seemingly concludes with the opening of “Rise” this weekend — have tried to honor Fisher’s memory while also wrestling with how to present her iconic character, Leia Organa, on screen.
The starkest misstep since was a digital motion-capture representation of a young Leia briefly in the one-off film “Rogue One” — an eerie effect that many fans thought fell squarely into the “uncanny valley.”
Lucasfilm announced last year that Fisher would appear in “Rise,” but assuaged fans about how the posthumous “performance” would be handled.
“We would never consider recasting,” Abrams said this month, speaking by phone from the L.A. area. “And we wouldn’t want to do a digital character.”
The late actress left the director an uncanny message in her autobiography.
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER – It sure sounds like Carrie Fisher knew something no one else did at the time.
J.J. Abrams on Monday dropped by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and talked about his upcoming Star Wars film, The Rise of Skywalker, and an uncanny message the late actress left to him that he now understands.
While talking about how much he missed Fisher, who died in 2016 at the age of 60, Abrams recalled working with her on his first Star Wars film, The Force Awakens.
It is common knowledge now that Princess Leia appears in the new film via unused Force Awakens footage, but obviously, no one knew that would be the case at the time of that film’s release. What’s more, no one could have known Abrams would return to direct Skywalker — that is except maybe Fisher.
“I wasn’t supposed to work on this film,” Abrams begins. “She passed away before Last Jedi was released. She wrote this autobiography, The Princess Diarist, and I remember reading in the end, a ‘special thanks to J.J, Abrams for putting up with me twice.’ I had never worked with her before Force Awakens and I wasn’t supposed to direct Episode IX. It was a very Carrie thing to write something like that and to somehow know. It was really strange.”
Abrams also told Colbert that The Rise of Skywalker was completed Sunday.
The Disney film is due in theaters Dec. 20.
Watch the segment below.
YAHOO – Still think Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker was the “last Jedi” referenced in the title of the eighth episode of Star Wars’s Skywalker Saga? Think again. In the original version of the ninth and final installment, The Rise of Skywalker, his sister, Leia (played by Carrie Fisher), was going to emerge as a full-fledged Jedi warrior, complete with her very own lightsaber. That’s according to no less an authority than Fisher’s real-life brother, Todd Fisher, who filled us in on what the plan was for his sister’s iconic character prior to her sudden death in December 2016. “She was going to be the big payoff in the final film,” Fisher reveals exclusively to Yahoo Entertainment. “She was going to be the last Jedi, so to speak. That’s cool right?” (Watch our video interview above.)
Cool is an understatement: It’s positively wizard. Leia’s Force abilities were teased in a key scene of Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, and the Resistance general apparently would have had the chance to get even more physical in The Rise of Skywalker. “People used to say to me, ‘Why is it that Carrie never gets a lightsaber and chops up some bad guys,’” Fisher says, noting that Alec Guinness was roughly the same age when Obi-Wan Kenobi battled Darth Vader in A New Hope. “Obi-Wan was in his prime when he was Carrie’s age!”
Unfortunately, a version of The Rise of Skywalker where Leia picks up her father and brother’s chosen weapon can only exist in our imaginations. After Fisher’s death, her alter ego’s arc had to be re-conceived by returning director J.J. Abrams, who previously directed the actress in 2015’s The Force Awakens. “The truth is that J.J. Abrams was great friends with Carrie… he had an extraordinary sense of love for her,” her brother says. It was that love that led the filmmaker to make a bold, and creatively risky decision: take unused footage of Leia left over from The Force Awakens and make it part of The Rise of Skywalker. “They had eight minutes of footage,” Fisher tells us. “They grabbed every frame and analyzed it… and then reverse-engineered it and [got] it into the story the right way. It’s kind of magical.”
Fisher understandably declines to elaborate on how exactly Abrams “reverse-engineered” the unused footage into a satisfying farewell to such a beloved, and groundbreaking, character. But he does hint that Abrams has found a way to address both losses in an emotional way. “This is, in its own way, a payoff. … It’s Carrie talking to us all from beyond. The beautiful thing about the concept of the Force is that there is no real death; you just exist in another dimension. So Carrie is looking down or sideways or wherever and is still part of us. To be able to see that — it’s magical stuff only in the movies.”
TIME – by Billie Lourd
I grew up with three parents: a mom, a dad and Princess Leia. I guess Princess Leia was kind of like my stepmom–technically family, but deep down I didn’t really like her. She literally and metaphorically lived on a planet I had never been to. When Leia was around, there wasn’t as much room for my mom–for Carrie. 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.
I didn’t watch Star Wars until I was about 6 years old. (And I technically didn’t finish it until I was 9 or 10. I’m sorry! Don’t judge me!) My mom used to love to tell people that every time she tried to put it on, I would cover my ears and yell, “It’s too loud, Mommy! Turn it off!”–or fearfully question, “Is that lady in the TV you?” It wasn’t until middle school that I finally decided to watch it of my own accord–not because I suddenly developed a keen interest in ’70s sci-fi, but because boys started coming up to me and saying they fantasized about my mom. My mom? The lady who wore glitter makeup like it was lotion and didn’t wear a bra to support her much-support-needed DD/F’s? They couldn’t be talking about her! I had to investigate who this person was they were talking about.
So I went home and watched the movie I had forever considered too loud and finally figured out what all the fuss was about the lady in the TV. I’d wanted to hate it so I could tell her how lame she was. Like any kid, I didn’t want my mom to be “hot” or “cool”–she was my mom. I was supposed to be the “cool,” “hot” one–not her! But staring at the screen that day, I realized no one is, or ever will be, as hot or as cool as Princess F-cking Leia. (Excuse my language. She’s just that cool!)
Later that year, I went to Comic-Con with my mom. It was the first time I realized how widespread and deep people’s love for Leia was, even after so many years. It was surreal: people of all ages from all over the world were dressed up like my mom, the lady who sang me to sleep at night and held me when I was scared. Watching the amount of joy it brought to people when she hugged them or threw glitter in their faces was incredible to witness. People waited in line for hours just to meet her. People had tattoos of her. People named their children after her. People had stories of how Leia saved their lives. It was a side of my mom I had never seen before. And it was magical.
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. 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.
When I graduated from college, like most folks, I was trying to figure out what the hell to do with my life. I went to school planning to throw music festivals, but always had this little sliver of me that wanted to do what my parents pushed me so hard not to do–act. I was embarrassed to admit I was even slightly interested. So when my mom called me and told me they wanted me to come in to audition for Star Wars, I pretended it wasn’t a big deal–I even laughed at the concept–but inside I couldn’t think of anything that would make me happier. A couple weeks later I went in for my audition. I probably had never been more nervous in my life. I was terrified and most likely made a fool of myself, but I kind of had a great time doing it. I assumed they would never call me, but after that audition, I realized I wanted to give the whole acting thing a shot. I was definitely afraid, but as a wise woman once said, “Stay afraid, but do it anyway … The confidence will follow.”
About a month later, they somehow ended up calling. And there I was, on my way to be in motherf-cking Star Wars. Whoa. Growing up, my parents treated film sets like a house full of people with the flu: they kept me away from them at all costs. So on that fateful first day driving up to Pinewood, I was like a doe-eyed child. I couldn’t tell my mom, but little sassy, sarcastic, postcollege me felt like a giddy, grateful middle schooler showing up to a fancy new school.
DEADLINE – J.J. Abrams explained to D23 attendees today, how the late Carrie Fisher will be included in the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
“The character of Leia is really, in a way, the heart of this story. When we were talking about this story we realized we could not possibly tell the end of these nine films without Leia,” Abrams said during the gathering in Anaheim.
Fisher died in December 2016 at age 60, after suffering a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles.
Abrams revealed he still had unused footage of the beloved actress from The Force Awakens, and decided to use it in the finale of the original Skywalker saga.
“We realized we could use [it] in a new way so Carrie, as Leia, gets to be in the film,” he said.
Abrams noted that he wasn’t originally intended to direct the final film, but was inspired by something Fisher wrote about the future Star Wars project in her book The Princess Diarist, before she passed away.
“She was almost sort of supernaturally witty and magical in a way,” Abrams said.
He went on to recall that Fisher penned: “‘And special thanks to J.J. Abrams for putting up with me twice.’ Now, I had never worked with her before The Force Awakens and I wasn’t supposed to do this movie, so it was a classic Carrie thing to sort of write something like that and it could only mean one thing for me. And I could not be more excited to have you see her in her final performance.”
At D23, Abrams was joined by Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and nine stars from the film, including Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran and Billy Dee Williams, plus special appearances from R2-D2, BB-8 and the new droid D-O.
The movie’s official poster was also unveiled, and shows Rey and Kylo Ren facing off against the backdrop of an ominous electrical storm.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens domestically on Dec. 20, 2019.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY – Carrie Fisher may be gone but her legacy lives on with Princess-turned-General Leia in the Star Wars films.
When sitting down in the EW and PEOPLE video studio at the D23 fan expo in Anaheim, Calif. on Saturday, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams and LucasFilm head Kathleen Kennedy discussed how they were going to handle the late Fisher’s role in the upcoming conclusion to the latest trilogy.
“There was a huge sense of responsibility,” Kennedy says. “We spent a lot of time talking about what do we want to feel? First of all, Leia. That was a really, really complicated conversation but we knew that she was such an important character to the story.”
And Abrams adds, “It just felt wrong to say that she wasn’t around, to say that she had gone somewhere, to say that she had passed away in between, it just felt like there was no way to end this story. She’s such an integral part of it.”
“Finding the end to this in an emotional way was paramount,” Kennedy says. During the D23 panel, Abrams revealed that “we realized that we had footage from Episode VII that we realized we could use in a new way. So Carrie, as Leia, gets to be in the film.”
When it came to figuring out the ending to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Abrams knew had a monumental endeavor on his hands. Not only does this film end the most recent Star Wars trilogy, but it also promises to conclude the nine-film saga that began with 1977’s A New Hope.
“It’s not just the end of three movies; it’s the end of nine movies, three trilogies,” Abrams says. “So the story needed to end emotionally, it needed to end with scale but with intimacy. It was a bit of a juggling on a tightrope act. But it was really important to us that we tell a story that makes people feel and where there’s a sense if you’re a kid watching all nine movies years from now, you see this beginning, middle, and end and you feel like it was all coming to this.”
Check out our full interview with Abrams and Kennedy above.
Before Abrams and Kennedy sat down with EW and People, they debuted a new poster at D23 showing Rey (Daisy Ridley) facing off against Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), as well as an epic sizzle reel that is expected to be released online Monday, representing the first new footage of the film since the teaser trailer was released in April.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is set for release Dec. 20, 2019.
Fisher’s kindness to others with bipolar disorder was one of the striking things I learned about ‘Princess Leia’ in researching her life for my book.
USA TODAY – Early in 2004, entrepreneur Joanne Doan had just gotten funding for a serious niche magazine. Called bpHope, it would be tailored to the more than 6 million Americans with bipolar disorder, which, until 1980, was called manic depression. In a fit of hubris, Doan contacted Carrie Fisher — famous of course as an actor, writer and charismatic personality. Since Fisher had gone public with her diagnosis of bipolar I (the more serious form) four years earlier, Doan asked her the long-shot question: Would she pose for the cover and give a lengthy interview to a magazine that didn’t exist yet?
“`Yes!’’ Carrie said, and “without hesitation,’’ Doan told me. She was happily stunned: “Carrie Fisher on the cover got us advertising we never would have gotten otherwise. I don’t know what we would have done without her.’’
Carrie’s candor in three interviews for the magazine “inspired our community to be able to … go out there and live fulfilling lives,” Doan said.“She took the stigma against bipolar disorder and kicked it to the curb.’’
Kind and encouraging to bipolar fans
Carrie’s significance in encouraging people who are bipolar to get over their shame, and her kindness to others in the community, were among the most striking things I learned in researching her life for my forthcoming book, “Carrie Fisher: A Life On the Edge.”
In 2000, she told Diane Sawyer about the severe psychotic break she had suffered. She had actually written the word “shame” instead of her name on a hospital form, Now, she said, looking into Sawyer’s eyes, “I am mentally ill. I can say that.”
Even at “Star Wars” events, she spoke of her illness and “made extra time, long after she was supposed to leave, talking to fans who were also bipolar,” said David Zentz, a nuclear worker and “Star Wars” fanatic who saw her at more than three dozen events over the years.
Carrie was a way-paver, especially with women. The only female celebrity who had comprehensively admitted her bipolarity before Carrie did was the former child actress Patty Duke, who in 1992 had published a memoir called “A Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic-Depressive Illness.”
But, as Princess Leia and an icon to her peer group, Carrie’s influence was stronger.
Media shaming for bipolar women
Even though there’s the same personal shame for men as for women in being bipolar, women bipolars are media shamed far more than men are. After Carrie’s forthright declaration of her mental illness to Sawyer, it would be four more years before Jane Pauley dared write about her bipolarity, more than a decade before Catherine Zeta-Jonesrevealed hers and Demi Lovato admitted that she had been diagnosed, and nearly 18 years before Mariah Carey did.
Mental illness is agonizing, and bipolar disorder has its own form of agony. Carrie once described her manic periods to the Los Angeles Times as “feeling like my mind’s been having a party all night long and I’m the last person to arrive and now I have to clean up the mess.”
And being female can make things harder: Women are often diagnosed as merely “the worried well” until it’s too late to get the most effective treatment. And because of female hormonal changes, the arc from premenstrual to menopausal, women often have to change their medication frequently. Also, virtually all medication for bipolar — including the mainstay, lithium — involves weight gain, a particularly sensitive issue for women.
Credit for pushing the truth
At the end of her life, the usually snarky and tough Carrie Fisher admitted to being deeply hurt by the weight-shaming she received on the internet, and much of her weight gain had to do with her medication. Bipolarity is not “unlike a tour of duty in Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside),” she wrote in her book “Wishful Drinking.” And she believed that pride, not shame, should come from being a warrior in that battle.
One of the most important things Carrie did, says Stephen Fried, an author who specializes in the subject, is to make the point that just because a person’s symptoms are gone for a while, they are not gone for good — they will return. The public often misunderstands the chronic nature of mental illness and gets wrongly judgmental with what they misconstrue as relapse caused by an undisciplined person rather than the sheer tenacity of the disease.
“Carrie Fisher was always in people’s faces about her mental illness,” Fried said, admiringly. “She let you know that even when she seemed fine, she wasn’t. She deserves a lot of credit for pushing that truth’’ and humanizing the disease.
“I am mentally ill. I can say that.” Those were blunt, powerful words from an unusually honest and very helpful woman.
Sheila Weller is the author of “Carrie Fisher: A Life on the Edge,” to be published Nov. 12, from which parts of this column are drawn. Her earlier books include the 2008 “Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon — And the Journey of a Generation.” Find her on Facebook here.