Star Wars actors quickly get accustomed to performing against things that aren’t really there, thanks to CG artists who animate exotic aliens and other special effects into a scene.
But Daisy Ridley had the far more emotionally complicated task of performing new scripted material opposite Carrie Fisher in The Rise of Skywalker even though the beloved actress died after filming 2017’s The Last Jedi.
Fisher’s footage — culled from roughly eight minutes of scenes deleted from The Force Awakens — was unaltered, according to director J.J. Abrams. But Ridley had to perform her side of their exchanges, which were reworked to service the plot of the final Skywalker Saga film.
“It was definitely difficult,” Ridley told British GQ in the magazine’s January/February cover story. “It was emotional doing it, because you’re also weirdly picturing her. You’re not picturing how the scene is going to be.”
One scene is glimpsed in the teaser trailer, below. “It’s really sad,” Ridley says. “And it’s going to be really sad. But also, it’s amazing that they have all this footage that is woven into the story in such a strange way.”
Ridley also described the sadness of shooting her final scene for the film (which wasn’t necessarily the final scene in the movie). “The scene was me being very sad,” she says. “Let’s just say it was not hard to be upset in that scene … I did this embarrassing speech that I can’t remember. It was so sad.”
Abrams previously told EW that figuring out how to utilize Fisher’s previously deleted scenes in the new movie was one of his biggest challenges.
“Saying Leia had passed away, or that she was off somewhere else, felt like a cheat,” Abrams said. “Then I remembered we had these scenes that we hadn’t used from Episode VII. It was like finding this impossible answer to this impossible question. Suddenly we had classic Carrie in these amazing moments. So when you see in the movie, it’s her, she’s there. It’s not like there’s some crazy digital trickery. She’s just in the movie.”
The Rise of Skywalker opens Dec. 20.