Billie Lourd stepped in to play mom Carrie Fisher for The Rise of Skywalker


*Mild spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker* I have not seen Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and have turned a blind eye to most of the discussion on it so if I get some plot points wrong here, please forgive me. I am not mad at the film, nor have I picked a side in the TeamJohnson/TeamAbrams debate, it is merely lack of interest in the movie on my part. However, that doesn’t mean I’ve lost interest in Star Wars or its characters, many of whom hold a special place in my heart. Of course, one of my favorites is General Organa/Princess Leia played by Carrie Fischer. Carrie died after filming The Last Jedi (but before its release). When the ROS discussion began, folks wanted to know what they would do with Leia. We were assured that no one else would fill Carrie’s shoes in the role and that she would go out with dignity. Much was made of the fact that eight minutes of discarded Leia footage existed and that it could be digitally manipulated to complete her story in ROS, allowing the filmmakers to keep their word. Mostly. It turns out, there was one small but important bit that Abrams needed a stand-in for. He found the perfect person to do it: Carrie’s daughter Billie Lourd.

When Carrie Fisher passed away in December 2016, the current forces behind the Star Wars franchise made it clear that the actress wouldn’t be replaced by a new performer — Meryl Streep, for example — or a digital avatar for the final episode in the sequel trilogy, The Rise of Skywalker. Instead, director J.J. Abrams used eight-minutes of extra material from his 2015 film, The Force Awakens, as well as Rian Johnson’s 2017 follow-up, The Last Jedi, to craft a send-off to Fisher’s signature alter ego, General Leia Organa. That said, there is one crucial sequence in the film where Leia is (briefly) portrayed by another actress. Midway through the movie, we jump back in time to the post-Return of the Jedi era, when Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) trains his Force-sensitive sister in the ways of the Jedi.

Speaking with Yahoo Entertainment, ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Patrick Tubach says that Hamill played the “young” Luke in that sequence, and had his youthful appearance restored thanks to the magic of de-aging technology. But they also needed an actress to perform Leia’s role, someone whose face would be digitally replaced by a younger version of Fisher in the finished film. When the time came to shoot that scene, Abrams decided to keep the part in the family by asking Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd — who also plays Resistance lieutenant Kaydel Ko Connix in the sequel trilogy — to take on the mantle of Leia. “Billie was playing her mother,” Tubach reveals, confirming rumors that first surfaced online this past spring. “It was a poignant thing, and something that nobody took lightly — that she was willing to stand in for her mom.”

Lourd’s performance as Leia lasts mere seconds in terms of screentime, but Tubach and the rest of Rise of Skywalker’s visual effects team understood the drama of the moment. “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.”

[From Yahoo] *This link has Spoilers*

Even without having seen it, I’m sure this was the right decision. It sounds like it was an important scene and certainly a nostalgic one, so it probably added much to the story. And the sentimentality of having Billie fill the role adds to the movie’s promotion. In a franchise that has come to lean heavily on nostalgia and sentimentality, it was a brilliant move. This story warms my heart. I have to believe it meant the world to Billie. She was already a part of the franchise but to be able to both embody and honor her mother makes a nice Hollywood ending.

The article goes on to say that Billie’s part as Leia is just a few seconds. I’m relieved because some of the video recreations, especially in Rogue One, were shocking. I hope they superimposed Carrie’s face on to Billie with more success here. And I can’t help but think that with her wicked sense of humor, should Carrie commune with Billie from beyond, she’d start with, “nice job as Leia… but I’ve got notes.”




Photo credit: WENN Photos and Getty Images

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11 Responses to “Billie Lourd stepped in to play mom Carrie Fisher for The Rise of Skywalker”

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  1. LaraK says:

    It was so bittersweet to watch those scenes!
    Carrie Fisher was amazing.

  2. Mia4s says:

    Carrie Fisher was a Queen and an absolute inspiration to me from childhood to this day….but in my opinion for the most part her inclusion in this movie was a mistake. Without major (major!!) changes to the script they needed a legacy character who could really interact with Rey and Kylo. Her scenes out of necessity had a weird, disjointed quality. The one they are talking about here is seconds long and done to a voice over. It’s….fine. But the story point it tries it make is out of nowhere and really bizarre.

    I wish this could have been Carrie’s movie, but sometimes life sucks! They should have left Luke alive (but severely weakened after Last Jedi) to really do what they were trying to do with this movie. Sadly the more I think about this film the less I like it. All love to Billie though, of course.

    • Mar says:

      They couldn’t have Luke alive in TROS bc he was gone at the end of TLJ. And I think this quick explanation of Leia training as a Jedi and being Force sensitive was totally necessary after Rian Johnson decided that Leia could survive in outer space and fly…it tied up that dumbass decision nicely.

      • Mia4s says:

        I honestly think that the end of Last Jedi should have been changed. It would have required maybe 10 seconds of editing . Luke’s arc worked well for that movie….but this is a trilogy. It could not be more clear that there was no overarching plan, too many cooks in the kitchen, and just a bizarre mish-mash of elements. The individual movies have things to recommend them. As a trilogy? Dreadfully disconnected.

        Leia as a Jedi was great, I’m talking about that “oh on the last night she told me she had to stop because her vision of son’s death something something”? That’s a setup for an arc, not a throwaway line in the third movie.

  3. Lucy says:


    It is a very short semi-action scene in which Leia’s face is covered for the most part anyways, but it’s good! It must have been split between Billie standing in for Carrie and (maybe?) the action stuntwoman who performs the fight movements against Luke.

  4. Jesys says:

    Sadly the movie sucked, but it was a beautiful scene, and a wise decision in my opinion. And god, the de-aging tech… I was stunned!

  5. Murphy says:

    “We were assured that no one else would fill Carrie’s shoes”
    I feel like they said this too soon, it was an in the moment “we love Carrie so much” comment. Because I never had any doubt that Billie Lourd would do it and/or let them CGI as much as they needed to. JJ got her (Billie) in on the ground floor (TFA) for a reason.

  6. Jess says:

    I thought it was a good scene but it was obvious it was Billie, but there’s no one else who should’ve done the part. It was nicely done and I’m sure Billie loved it, bittersweet.

  7. Digital Unicorn says:

    Billies looks a lot like her Grandma, Debbie Fisher, in some of those photos.

  8. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    Sweet? Maybe, if this was the only thing Billie was asked to do for the sequels. But her character was only in the last two movies because of nepotism. I mean, I know we all liked Carrie and so we want to like her daughter — and Billie could be a real angel for all I know. But let’s face it, she was cast in The Force Awakens because of nepotism, and that’s part of what I hate about Hollywood.

  9. Hippu85 says:

    I didn’t know she is her daughter, but now her casting made sense! Always wondered why she is even acting, so… Meh?