JJ Abrams discusses using old Carrie Fisher footage in ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’: “We found the impossible answer to the impossible question”

Fisher will make one last appearance as General Leia Organa

JJ Abrams has spoken about using old footage of Carrie Fisher in the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Fisher, who played General Leia Organa, died in December 2016 after suffering a cardiac arrest on a flight from London to LA.

The actor will play a part in the new movie thanks to unused material shot for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. After being faced with the decision of whether to leave Leia out of the story or recast her, Abrams realised the old footage could be used if some scenes were rewritten to fit her dialogue.

“It’s hard to even talk about it without sounding like I’m being some kind of cosmic spiritual goofball,” the director told Vanity Fair. “But it felt like we suddenly had found the impossible answer to the impossible question. It has a bizarre kind of left side/right side of the brain sort of Venn diagram thing, of figuring out how to create the puzzle based on the pieces we had.”

He continued: “There are moments in this movie where Carrie is there, and I really do feel there is an element of the uncanny, spiritual, classic Carrie, that it would have happened this way because somehow it worked. And I never thought it would.”

Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd will reprise her role of Lieutenant Connix after playing the character in The Last Jedi and 2015’s The Force Awakens. Abrams said Lourd had insisted on not being written out despite the potential for the scenes to be upsetting for her. “And so there are moments where they’re talking, there are moments when they’re touching,” the director explained.

Fisher’s part in The Rise Of Skywalker was previously confirmed by her brother Todd earlier this year. “There’s a lot of minutes of footage,” he said during an appearance on Good Morning America. “I don’t mean just outtakes. This is unused, new content that could be woven into the storyline. That’s what’s going to give everybody such a great kick. It’s going to look like it was meant to be. Like it was shot yesterday.”

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker arrives in cinemas on December 19, 2019 in the UK and December 20 in the US.