What It Was Like To Film Those Big Leia Scenes Without Carrie Fisher, According To Kelly Marie Tran

Rose in The Rise of Skywalker

CinemaBlend participates in affiliate programs with various companies. We may earn a commission when you click on or make purchases via links.

Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

It's almost hard to believe, but the Skywalker Saga has finally come to an end. J.J. Abrams' The Rise of Skywalker wrapped up the current trilogy, as well as the nine-film narrative that began with A New Hope. One of the challenges came with the handling of Carrie Fisher's General Leia, who was included through unused footage of the late actress in The Force Awakens. Many of Leia's scenes included Resistance leader Rose Tico, and now Kelly Marie Tran explained the complicated nature of filming those sequences.

While the trio of new heroes went on an adventure across the galaxy, Rose Tico stayed behind with Leia. That's where General Leia's life ultimately ended, with Rose with her throughout all of her final battle in the galaxy far, far away. Kelly Marie Tran recently spoke to what it was like filming those scenes without Carrie Fisher, saying:

Yeah, the one thing that was difficult was that you were acting with footage that was pre-recorded. So, instead of having an actor there and reacting off the actor, you would sometimes look — in between takes — at how the actor delivered a line and then try to imagine and react to that. So, it definitely took more time and was a very different experience for me. We probably did a lot more takes for scenes with her than without her.

Well, this makes a great deal of sense. Not only did J.J. Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio have to craft The Rise of Skywalker's script around the spare footage of Carrie Fisher, but there was also the task of filming around it. And that meant plenty of more takes for the actors involved.

It was obviously a great challenge giving Leia and Carrie Fisher an appropriate sendoff, since the late actress died back in 2016. And in order to try and make the scenes/lighting/blocking as realistic as possible, J.J. Abrams shot a ton of footage for each scene featuring Leia. And through this hard work, the franchise's heroine was able to appear in one more installment in the beloved space opera.

Star Wars fans can re-watch the Skywalker Saga on Disney+. You can use this link for a free 7-day trial to the streaming service.

Later in her conversation with THR, Kelly Marie Tran went on to explain what a puzzle Leia's role in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was. As she put it,

It’s one thing to sit there, look at that footage and try to react to it, but a lot of the big group scenes felt like they were puzzle pieces if that makes sense. We were trying to use specific moments that they already had, so it definitely took more time. I think there were more reshoots on those scenes, specifically, to just try and make sure all of the performances matched up since she wasn’t physically there.

This concerted effort was ultimately successful, as Leia was able to have the same heart and wit in The Rise of Skywalker as she always did. And with the character's backstory expanded through flashbacks with Luke, Leia' story was very much at the heart of Episode IX. After all, the blockbuster was originally planned as her movie, as Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford each had one of their own. While there's one scene were Leia's coloring is off, the majority of these scenes with Leia are seamless.

Related: Star Wars Has More Unused Carrie Fisher Footage We Might See In Deleted Scenes

There were also quite a few Leia scenes that ultimately didn't make it into the theatrical cut of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. This resulted in a reduced role for Kelly Marie Tran's Rose Tico. Many fans have taken umbrage with Rose's lack of screen time, especially considering the backlash Tran received following the release of The Last Jedi.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters now. Be sure to check out our 2020 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.