Saturday, Jan 23, 2021 | Last Update : 04:53 PM IST
By Sugandha Rawal
The upcoming "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" will honour the legacy of Carrie Fisher. Director J.J. Abrams says the late actress will appear as Princess Leia for the last time in "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker".
Abrams on Saturday got on the stage at D23 Expo here to explain how the footage of the late actress has been used in the upcoming installment of the franchise. For him, it was very important to make Fisher a part of the final film in the "Skywalker" saga as her iconic character makes up for the heart of the entire story.
"The character of Leia is really, in a way, the heart of this story. We realised we could not possibly tell the end of these nine films without Leia. We realised that we had footage from Episode VII, and we could use it in a new way," Abrams said.
Fisher died in December in 2016 at age 60, after suffering a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles. She had already completed filming on her role in "The Last Jedi". Last year, it was announced that Fisher's family had approved previous footage of her being used for Episode IX, titled "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker".
Abrams said that he had unused footage of the actress from "The Force Awakens", and that's when he decided to use it in the final part.
"We realised we could use it in a new way so Carrie, as Leia, gets to be in the film," he said.
Abrams also shared that he wasn't originally intended to direct the film. He got inspired by what Fisher wrote about the future "Star Wars" project in her book "The Princess Diarist", before she passed away.
He recalled that Fisher penned: "And special thanks to J.J. Abrams for putting up with me twice. Now, I had never worked with her before 'The Force Awakens' and I wasn't supposed to do this movie, so it was a classic Carrie thing to sort of write something like that and it could only mean one thing for me. And I could not be more excited to have you see her in her final performance."
"She was almost sort of supernaturally witty and magical in a way," Abrams said.
With Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac leading the cast, "Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker" will wrap up the Skywalker saga that George Lucas started with "Star Wars: A New Hope" in 1977.
At D23 Expo, actress Keri Russell joined the fellow cast members Boyega, Isaac, Ridley, Joonas Suotamo and Billy Dee Williams along with Abrams and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy.
Russell teased about her role saying -- she is really funny and a little bit shady -- kind of a criminal.
The team also released a new poster for "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker", which shows Rey (Ridley) having a lightsaber duel with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) amid a storm, and a giant image of returning villain Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) in the background. The film is slated to open in the US in December this year.
(Sugandha Rawal is in Anaheim on an invitation of Disney India. She can be contacted at email@example.com)