Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker director J. J. Abrams spoke to Stephen Colbert on Monday night about Carrie Fisher’s lasting impact on the Star Wars films. And it turns out, she somehow knew plenty more than he did about Leia’s journey.
The Late Show host asked Abrams about the fact that he read somewhere (just go with it) that George Lucas had originally intended the third series of Star Wars films to be Leia’s story, a role owned by the late great Fisher. Abrams didn’t know if that was the case, but he did shed light on Leia’s role in the upcoming film.
“She was the greatest,” said Abrams. “And we knew that there was no way that we could finish this Skywalker saga without Leia. It was impossible. And we knew we’d never want to do a digital Leia and of course couldn’t recast it.”
Abrams, luckily, had something up his sleeve.
“I remembered we had these scenes that we had shot in The Force Awakens that we’d never used, which at the time I was really upset that we weren’t using them because it was Carrie and it was Leia and how do you not use them? But it just didn’t work in the movie. And weirdly, those scenes were material that we 100 percent realised that could be used to tell her story in this film. So every time you’re seeing Leia in scenes with characters it’s Carrie in this movie.
“And I still can’t quite believe that she’s gone, because we’ve been working on these scenes in editorial and she’s as there as anyone. It’s really uncanny.”
Oddly, Fisher left a cryptic message in her book, The Princess Diarist, for Abrams before she passed away.
“I wasn’t supposed to work on this film, and she passed away before The Last Jedi was released, and she wrote this book,” he said. “She thanked me at the very end, she says, ‘Special thanks to J. J. Abrams, for putting up with me twice.’ And I had never worked with her before The Force Awakens and I wasn’t supposed to direct Episode IX.”