Regardless of opinions of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, there is one thing all Star Wars fans can agree on: it really sucks that Carrie Fisher is gone. We’ll never know what the final movie in the Skywalker Saga might have been like with her still alive (and I’d wager it would have been better). But I personally appreciate that Lucasfilm and J.J. Abrams were able to include her in the film on some level.
Spoilers for the movie will follow.
There is a really important flashback scene in the film where we see a much younger Luke training an equally young Leia in the ways of the Jedi. We learn that she was fully trained to become a Jedi Knight, but she turned in her badge and her gun lightsaber because she had a vision about the death of her son. The scene provides a great deal of clarity about Leia’s past, as well as her relationship to Ben.
Yahoo reports that in this scene, digital de-aging technology was used to allow Mark Hamill to play his younger self. Carrie Fisher was unavailable, of course. So, Abrams and Disney brought Carrie’s daughter Billie Lourd on board to play young Leia. They used special effects to paste Carrie’s face onto Billie’s. It’s similar to what was done with Paul Walker on Furious 7. It’s also worth noting Billie is not new to Star Wars herself. She plays a small role as a Resistance officer named Kaydel Ko Connix in the new trilogy.
I was very happy to learn about this little Easter Egg. It’s a beautiful way for Billie to say goodbye to her mother in a loving and respectful tribute. It’s also poignant that Leia’s final act in the film was to sacrifice herself as an expression of love to her child.