In a film like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, a lot of the special effects are done with CGI in post-production. However, that wasn’t the case with Carrie Fisher’s scenes in Episode IX. Now, new details have emerged regarding the unused Carrie Fisher footage from The Force Awakens, which give us a bit more detail about what to expect from Leia and Rey’s scenes together.
Mild spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Ahead of The Rise of Skywalker, director J.J. Abrams faced a massive challenge. How could General Leia Organa be an integral part of the film without having to recreate her digitally? The director says he pulled together unused scenes from The Force Awakens. He also confirmed that none of Leia’s scenes come from The Last Jedi, which suggests that a long-rumored training scene between Rey and Leia might still come into play.
Here’s what Abrams told ComicBook.com about piecing together footage that would seamlessly fit into The Rise of Skywalker:
We had, I think, five or six pieces, scenes that Carrie had shot that we didn’t use in the film. So it was easy to find those pieces and identify them and choose takes and look at them and see what we had. Then it was about reverse engineering those scenes and writing everything around it. Then when we shot the pieces, lighting everything around Carrie so that we were never using a kind of digital Carrie, we were always using her in her performance.
A new exhibit featuring costumes from Rise of Skywalker at Disneyland’s Galaxy’s Edge confirms that Leia will train Rey as a Jedi in the upcoming film. Abrams’ comments also suggest most of Leia’s screentime will be with Rey. Unused footage from the The Last Jedi would have offered more scenes of the General with Poe, and it seems Abrams didn’t want more of that.
It’s also possible that the unused Episode VII footage expanded on Rey’s backstory, which is why it was cut. It might be a long shot, but perhaps The Force Awakens is where Leia began training Rey and, after realizing who she was, decided that only Luke could complete her training. Now that Rey’s origins will be further explored in The Rise of Skywalker, Leia’s scenes might reveal that she’s known her identity along.
Daisy Ridley has already expressed how “difficult” it was to film the scenes with Leia, and it’s clear that she has an active role in Rey’s story. It’s still not clear how extensive their training sequences together will be, but count on the film to deepen their bond in a big way.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters December 20.