‘Carrie Fisher would’ve been chuffed’
"Carrie would be really chuffed."
Those are the words of Anthony Daniels, the man behind the iconic mask and voice of C3-PO.
Daniels has worked with Carrie Fisher since the very first Star Wars movie and he has no doubts that Fisher would've approved of The Rise of Skywalker, the upcoming final chapter of the so-called Skywalker Saga.
"Her presence is treated so affectionately and with such respect. And she wouldn't have to sit through hair and make-up all those days, she wouldn't have to wear a stupid wig, signature buns or anything. She's well-loved in this movie," Daniels told news.com.au.
When Fisher died unexpectedly at the age of 60 in the closing days of 2016, Star Wars fans and colleagues were heartbroken. While best known for playing Princess and then General Leia, Fisher had a career marked by her sharp wit, sass and wicked sense of humour.
Like the bold character she played in the Star Wars series, off-screen, she took no prisoners and didn't put on any airs.
Fisher's death came one year before the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi but she had already wrapped filming on Rian Johnson's film. Still, there was the matter of Rise of Skywalker.
"You know, that was one of the most difficult things, realising we went into Episode IX without Carrie," Lucasfilm producer Kathleen Kennedy said. "We knew she was an important part of the story but what fans will realise is she is very much a presence in Rise of Skywalker.
"And I think that's something Carrie herself would've been pleased about."
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The challenge of incorporating Fisher into the story came down to J.J. Abrams, who directed Fisher in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and was unexpectedly drafted to return to direct and co-write Rise of Skywalker after Kennedy sacked initial director Colin Trevorrow.
"It was really important to us in not just telling the story knowing we needed Leia to be in the film, but also in how we did it in using footage she had shot."
Abrams said inserting a digital version of Leia or recasting was "obviously, wouldn't be possible". So he used footage he had shot of Fisher during A Force Awakens, some of which has been teased in the Rise of Skywalker trailers that have been released so far.
"This was supposed to be her film, from what I understand," Daisy Ridley said. "It was supposed to be Harrison's film, then Mark's, then Carrie's film.
"But what J.J was able to find was so curiously right for the story we're telling, and Leia is such an important part of it. I think she'd be happy."
When the final full trailer was released, many fans professed to becoming emotional at the moment when Fisher, as Leia, came on screen in an embrace with Ridley's Rey, with Fisher's voiceover completing the line "The force will be with you, always".
"We tried to honour not just the character but the woman," Abrams added.
"Her daughter Billie (Lourd) was there when we were doing this because it was super important to us that her family be supportive and on board, and Billie is in scenes with her mother, it's really important.
"Whatever Carrie would've made of it, it would've been shocking and hysterical and whip-smart and instantaneous.
"Her mind just worked in a way like no one else."
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in cinemas from Thursday, December 19
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The writer travelled to Tokyo as a guest of Disney