JJ Abrams on ‘Bizarre’ Process Behind Carrie Fisher’s ‘Star Wars’ Episode IX Appearance

“Rise of Skywalker” production team “found the impossible answer to the impossible dream,” director says

Last Updated: May 22, 2019 @ 1:29 PM

Director J.J. Abrams said it wasn’t easy finding a way to include Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” His choices were limited: he needed Leia to tell the story properly, but recasting the iconic character wasn’t an option, and he wasn’t going to use a digital version of Fisher, who died in late 2016.

But, in a new Vanity Fair feature published on Wednesday, Abrams said the production team ultimately “found the impossible answer to the impossible question.” The director ended up digging up old footage of Fisher from 2015’s “The Force Awakens,” writing scenes around the clips, wedging her dialogue into a new context while at the same time using a bit of creative lighting.

“It was a bizarre kind of left side/right side of the brain sort of Venn diagram thing, of figuring out how to create the puzzle based on the pieces we had,” Abrams said, describing the process.

He continued: “It’s hard to even talk about it without sounding like I’m being some kind of cosmic spiritual goofball.”

The end result apparently worked out well. “There are moments in this movie where Carrie is there, and I really do feel there is an element of the uncanny, spiritual, you know, classic Carrie, that it would have happened this way, because somehow it worked. And I never thought it would,”  Abrams said.

Fisher’s final “Star Wars” appearance also received rave reviews from the star’s family, with her brother saying last December he was “thrilled” with how Leia is included in Episode IX.

“There’s a lot of minutes of footage. I don’t mean just outtakes,” Todd Fisher said. “This is unused, new content that could be woven into the storyline. That’s what’s going to give everybody such a great kick. It’s going to look like it was meant to be. Like it was shot yesterday.”

To read the full “Rise of Skywalker” VF profile, click here.