One of the coolest moments of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was the Jedi training sequences between digitally de-aged younger versions of Luke and Leia in a forest swinging lightsabers establishing that she had finished her journey to become a Jedi herself (first teased in Star Wars: The Last Jedi).
There is now some interesting information about the behind the scenes work on that scene.
Yahoo! was able to speak with ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Patrick Tubach, who revealed in that small action scene that while Mark Hamill played Luke again, the Leia part had been actually played by Carrie Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd (also plays Lt. Kaydel Ko Connix in the new trilogy).
Speaking with Yahoo Entertainment, ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Patrick Tubach says that Hamill played the “young” Luke in that sequence, and had his youthful appearance restored thanks to the magic of de-aging technology. But they also needed an actress to perform Leia’s role, someone whose face would be digitally replaced by a younger version of Fisher in the finished film. When the time came to shoot that scene, Abrams decided to keep the part in the family by asking Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd — who also plays Resistance lieutenant Kaydel Ko Connix in the sequel trilogy — to take on the mantle of Leia. “Billie was playing her mother,” Tubach reveals, confirming rumors that first surfaced online this past spring. “It was a poignant thing, and something that nobody took lightly — that she was willing to stand in for her mom.”
TUBACH: “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.”
The Rise of Skywalker’s Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett also confirms they used archival/outtake footage for the sequence.
GUYETT: “The idea was to provide this great surprise where they take the helmets off, and you see Luke and Leia’s younger faces. We scoured outtakes from the original movies, and we took some pieces and then had to try and figure out the technical aspect of putting that shot together.”
While we at HN Entertainment had reported that Lucasfilm has mulled over a young Leia series for Disney+ internally, there is still some question if we’ll ever see a live-action Leia again.
It is unlikely that we’ll be seeing the character on the big screen anytime soon as the Skywalker Saga has ended with The Rise of Skywalker and current rumors suggest that Star Wars 2022 will take place 400 years in the past in the “High Republic Era” (unconfirmed by Lucasfilm/Disney).
I think it could be interesting to see Luke and Leia establish the New Jedi Order, however, that might be reserved to video games, comics, and books.
That is unless Lucasfilm/Disney ultimately decides to hire Sebastian Stan (The Falcon & The Winter Soldier, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War) to play Luke Skywalker (has the approval of Mark Hamill) in a post-Return of The Jedi version of the character in a Disney+ series.
The Mandalorian is already covering that specific period of the start of the New Jedi Order and The First Order.
If they were to cast a new Leia, I don’t exactly see them using digital de-ageing again given the awkward response to it and the expense involved. I think fans could embrace Billie continuing the role without de-ageing (or another actress) depending if that is even something Disney wants to pursue.
Disney+ seems to be the home for Star Wars Legends and gap-filling stories to be explored.