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MASSIVE spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrived in theaters in time for the Holidays, and J.J. Abrams' second installment in the beloved franchise was more than just a movie. It was the final installment in the Skywalker Saga, and wrapped up the nine-film narrative that has spanned the past few decades. Abrams also had to complete Leia's story, despite Carrie Fisher's death in 2016. This was done through unused footage of the late actress/writer, although it turns out that her daughter Billie Lourd also stood in for her mother during one sequence.
J.J. Abrams made some big changes to Leia in The Rise of Skywalker, giving her an even deeper connection to The Force. It turns out that she did train with Luke in the ways of the Jedi, even besting him in a lightsaber duel. This sequence blew the minds of the collective fandom, and it's even more powerful knowing that Billie Lourd played the role for her mother. As Episode IX's visual Effects Supervisor Patrick Tubach recently explained:
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.
What an intense experience. Great care was taken in order to properly include Leia in Episode IX, and craft scenes around pre-recorded footage of late star Carrie Fisher. In addition to meticulously working on the visual effects for those scenes, visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic also had to put a young Leia and young Luke into their flashback sequence.
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.
As Patrick Tubach revealed to Yahoo!, it was actually Billie Lourd who played Leia during her training scene with Luke. This is the only time that Leia ever wielded a lightsaber in the current canon, and was a moment decades in the making. It's fitting that Lourd would stand in for her late mother, and help cement Leia's legacy. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker did feel like a final love letter to Fisher and Leia. After all, it was supposed to be "her movie" before Carrie Fisher's sudden death in 2016.
Aside from standing in for Leia during her epic training scene, Billie Lourd also reprised her role as Lt. Connix in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. She had a smaller role compared to The Last Jedi, staying with Leia and Rose Tico on the Resistance Base, and eventually joining in the final battle against the first order.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters now, and making tons of money in the process. Be sure to check out our 2020 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.