During the panel for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker at Star Wars Celebration Chicago, director J.J. Abrams provided some insight on the decision to bring back the late Carrie Fisher through previously unseen footage to posthumously reprise her role as General Leia Organa.
Abrams revealed it was important for him and co-writer Chris Terrio to include the Princess of Alderaan in the story for Episode IX rather than dismiss the character entirely off-screen or recast the role.
"She was the best. She was glorious. She was amazing. We all just loved her...she was the greatest," Abrams said. "You don't recast that part, and you don't suddenly make her disappear."
With permission from Fisher's family, the production incorporated unused footage of Fisher from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi to create her performance in the upcoming film, rather than rely on a digital performance through CGI.
"The idea of having a CGI character was off the table. We didn't even consider it," Abrams explained. "Emotionally, every day, it hits me that she's not here. But it's so surreal, because we're working with her still... She is there, in these scenes, and some scenes with Billie [Lourd] her daughter... Princess Leia lives in this movie in a way that's kind of mind-blowing to me."
Directed and co-written by J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Keri Russell, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams and Carrie Fisher, with Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant. The film arrives December 20.