An upscaled Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker image gives fans their best look at General Leia Organa and shows how old footage of Carrie Fisher is being altered for the new film. Back in 2016, the Star Wars community was hit by tragedy when Fisher passed away due to complications from a heart attack. While she had completed all of her scenes for The Last Jedi prior to her death, the loss of Fisher caused complications for Star Wars 9. Originally, Leia was supposed to be at the forefront of the film (much like Han Solo and Luke Skywalker were in the first two installments of the sequel trilogy, respectively), but Lucasfilm was forced to start from scratch.
With options like recasting and digitally recreating Fisher's likeness vehemently off the table, director J.J. Abrams came up with the idea to incorporate old footage of the late actress from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, writing new scenes around them so Fisher could still be a part of the Skywalker saga's culmination. Fans got a brief glimpse of Leia in a shot from the Rise of Skywalker teaser trailer where the General is hugging Rey, but now they have their best look at her.
Vanity Fair's recent Star Wars 9 spread included an image of John Williams conducting the movie's score. In the background of the photo was a shot of Leia on a jungle planet. Reddit user Dentface posted an upscaled/enhanced version of Leia, which you can see in the space below:
At first glance, this image of Leia seems to have originated from the scene towards the end of Force Awakens, when Leia bids farewell to Rey before the young scavenger heads off to Ahch-To. There are some clear digital touchups to make Leia appear older, such as graying her hair along the sides and weathering her skin. This was obviously done to reflect the time jump between Last Jedi and Star Wars 9, which is said to be about a year (a sharp attention to detail on the part of the crew). It's unknown if other elements, like Leia's costume and hairstyle, were digitally manipulated as well, but the end result looks very seamless. This also raises the question of how much of the Fisher footage was shot in front of a green screen, which would make things a lot easier for Abrams and company on Rise of Skywalker.
Obviously, this wouldn't top an officially released HD still of Leia from Star Wars 9, but it still works quite well to give fans an idea of what Abrams is going for with this approach. There are still a few questions regarding Leia's role that need to be resolved, and hopefully some of those layers will be peeled back as the marketing campaign continues. With The Rise of Skywalker being the final installment in the saga before Lucasfilm moves on to new stories, there's a strong need and desire to give Leia a fitting and proper sendoff. Unfortunately, real life forced the studio to change their plans, but they seem to be doing the best they can with the resources available.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019