Though you might not have spotted her outside of her lieutenant Connix gear, Billie Lourd made another, very important cameo on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker — and, of course, it relates to Carrie Fisher.
In the franchise’s ninth installment, which premiered on December 16, Billie quite literally stepped into the shoes of her mother. The Booksmart actor portrayed one of the franchise’s most iconic characters, Leia Organa, in one the film’s heartwarming scenes — and, with a little help from CGI, no one really noticed.
During the film, there’s a flashback scene where we get a glimpse at Leia and Luke (played by Mark Hamill) in full Jedi training mode. The short (yet poignant) scene is a nod to not only the franchise’s history, but also its fans — and Carrie herself.
For the little throwback, Mark reprised his Luke role (thanks to de-aging technology) but it was Billie that actually filled in for her mother. ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Patrick Tubach confirmed the surprising cameo to Yahoo! in a new interview. “Billie was playing her mother,” Tubach told the publication. “It was a poignant thing, and something that nobody took lightly — that she was willing to stand in for her mom.” Billie’s face was later replaced with Carrie’s using CGI.
“It was an emotional thing for everybody to see her in that position,” Tubach continued. “It felt great for us, too. If you’re going to have someone play [Carries'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.”
Following Carrie’s death in December 2016, the franchise faced one of its biggest conundrums in tackling Leia’s storyline, which is inarguably key to the main plot. Shortly after Carrie’s death, Lucasfilm released a statement saying they had “no plans” to digitally recreate Carrie. They also announced the part wouldn’t be recast.
In the end, and as Yahoo! notes, director J.J. Abrams settled on using cuts of unseen material from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. “J.J.’s principal in pre-production was, ‘I want Princess Leia to be played by Carrie Fisher. How do we do this?’” Tubach commented. “That was the integrity that he wanted brought to it, so that he could really put his hand on his heart and say that Princess Leia was always played by Carrie Fisher.” And, well, I guess technically now also Billie.
Earlier this year, fans of the franchise had already toyed with the idea of Billie playing Leia. Back in May, while the film was still in production, some speculated just so after rumors of a potential flashback scene started circulating online — and they sure seem to have come full circle.
Billie, who is part of the franchise in her own right as Lieutenant Kaydel Ko Connix, had previously admitted that the only reason she came back for episode IX was precisely because of her mother. “J.J. asked me if I would want to come back as Lieutenant Connix. I knew it would be one of the most painful, difficult things I would ever do, but I said yes for her – for my mom,” the actor wrote back in November in a personal essay for Time. “For Leia. For everyone Leia means so much to. For everyone Leia gives strength to. For my future kids, so someday they’ll have one more movie to watch that Mommy and Grandma were in together. So they can ask me about the lady – now ladies – in the TV and tell me to turn it down because it’s too loud.”
Billie is no stranger to a touching tribute but this small cameo might be her most significant yet — and, if you need me, I’ll be sobbing forever.
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Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue