Warning: spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker are in play. If you haven’t seen the film just yet, come back once you’ve experienced the final chapter of the Skywalker Saga.
For the time being, the Star Wars cinematic universe has come to a close, with the last episodic entry, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, acting as the true capstone to the exploits of the Skywalker family’s legacy with The Force.
And with the final goodbye to that particular family came the departure of the late Carrie Fisher’s iconic character, General Leia Organa. A moment that, within director J.J. Abrams’ latest installment in the Star Wars saga, left dear friend Chewbacca distraught with grief. And as recent Wookie actor Joonas Suotamo has just confessed, that display of despair was partially due to method acting and compounded by an interesting day with the following costuming issues:
I remember having some issues with my jaw being so sweaty that I had trouble opening the mouth of the Chewbacca mask. So, I was a nervous wreck underneath the mask because I knew this moment was so important to the film, and I wanted it to be perfect. But, maybe that helped me get into the right mindset. Everyone was really tense. It was agonizing to deal with that situation because you were essentially living the actual reality of it — that Carrie had passed — and now we were shooting the scene where her character passes. It was a very emotional day, and watching it is still very emotional for me.
After the untimely death of Carrie Fisher in 2016, the future of the film that would eventually be named Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was very much in question. That was because of the fact that this third episode in the Sequel Trilogy was supposed to be a story focused around the piece of this new Star Wars legacy occupied by General Leia Organa.
Eventually the decision was made to write the film around as many outtakes from Star Wars: The Force Awakens as humanly possible. But it’s to be assumed that should Carrie Fisher have survived to film her part in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, her character would have still passed on into her final state as a Force ghost alongside her brother, Luke Skywalker.
The saddest part of the final episode of Star Wars’ Skywalker Saga was drawn in sharper contrast by Joonas Suotamo, as when he spoke with THR, he really hammered home the sorrow that he felt, both in and out of character, with this perspective:
The whole film turned out to be beautiful, but especially those five minutes. When Han died in The Force Awakens, you knew that you were still going to shake Harrison Ford’s hand at the end of the day. So, yeah, Leia’s scene was definitely more difficult.
Chewbacca lost all three of his best friends in the Star Wars saga, but undoubtedly the loss of General Leia is the saddest of all. It’s something that definitely comes through in the moment, but is ultimately sadder to process when keeping in mind Joonas Suotamo’s remarks above.
Keep that in mind as you watch Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which is still playing in theaters. But if you’re ready to move on from the Star Wars galaxy, head over to the 2020 release schedule, and prepare your jump to lightspeed into the year’s latest and greatest films.