Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker VFX Reel Shows How They Resurrected Carrie Fisher


Eyebrows were raised when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was officially announced and it was revealed that Carrie Fisher would star in the movie. The beloved actress tragically died in late 2016 and while she’d completed shooting The Last Jedi, she had not done any work on The Rise of Skywalker. Director J.J. Abrams explained though that they were planning to bring her back as sensitively as possible and with the permission and co-operation of Fisher’s family.

Now, with The Rise of Skywalker competing for the best VFX at the Academy Awards on Sunday, Lucasfilm has released a new video explaining how they did it (which you can check out via the link below, as it’s exclusive to Vanity Fair). It goes into detail about how ILM selected unused footage from previous films and composited it into the new scenes. In addition, they run down how they did the young Luke and Leia training scene.

It turns out that Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd (who also appears in the movie as Lieutenant Connix) stood in for her body, while a CGI recreation of Fisher’s face was composited on top.

As ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Patrick Tubach explained in a recent interview:

“Billie was playing her mother. It was an emotional thing for everybody to see her in that position. It felt great for us, too. If you’re going to have someone play [Fisher’s] part, it’s great that it’s [Billie] because there are a lot of similarities between them that we were able to draw from. The real challenge was just making the Leia footage we had to work with fit in that scene.”

While I think the short sequence of Leia’s Jedi training works well due to the low lighting, for all of ILM’s efforts, Fisher never felt truly present in the rest of the movie. Using unused footage meant that it didn’t feel as if she was interacting with the rest of the cast and knowing that the performance was posthumous gave it a faintly ghoulish atmosphere.

Bringing back the actress was a nice idea, but in retrospect, I think it would have been better if it was Leia who sacrificed herself to save the Resistance in The Last Jedi and Laura Dern’s Admiral Holdo who went on to command in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Source: Vanity Fair