Rogue One: A Star Wars Story takes place just before A New Hope. The two movies are tied together in a truly incredible fashion — find out how they did it!
Massive spoilers for Rogue One ahead!
The first ever Star Wars spinoff movie, Rogue One, is now in theaters. The movie, which stars Felicity Jones and Diego Luna, takes us back in time to the crucial moments right before the beginning of the original saga, when the Rebellion is fighting what seems like a losing battle against the Empire.
Although Rogue One is very much a standalone movie, it cements its place in canon with several appearances and cameos from known characters — Darth Vader, Mon Mothma, R2-D2 and C-3PO all appear, and most impressively, the CGI team ‘resurrected’ late actor Peter Cushing to reprise his role of Grand Moff Tarkin.
But the very final scene still came as a welcome surprise to moviegoers: After the final battle had been won (and lost), it was time to get the Death Star plans to Princess Leia.
And instead of re-casting her or only showing her from behind, the Rogue One team actually built a shot of actress Carrie Fisher, looking just as she did in 1977, and even getting her to say one word: “Hope.”
How ‘Rogue One’ made Leia look like she did in ‘A New Hope’
As with the best movie magic, the younger version of Carrie Fisher was recreated using a mixture of practical and CGI effects.
First, the frame: As you may have seen on IMDb, there was actually a real actress playing the role of Leia: Ingvild Deila, who already bears a strong resemblance to a younger Carrie Fisher:
The Norwegian actress had clearly been sitting on this secret for a long time, and was excited to finally be able to share details about her involvement:
As a Star Wars fan I am incredibly thrilled, grateful and honoured to play Leia and be part of this beloved and amazing universe.#RogueOne
— Ingvild Deila (@Ingvild_Deila) December 16, 2016
Deila obviously isn’t an exact replica of Carrie Fisher, but their facial structures are similar enough to allow the special effects team to use her likeness to build Leia onto, using archive footage from the original Star Wars trilogy.
The special thank you note to Carrie Fisher in the Rogue One closing credits also suggests that the original Leia helped with the motion capture and face mapping, or perhaps she simply allowed them to use unseen footage.
We love the attention to detail that went into the final shot of Leia, as it would have completely ruined the effect if she’d looked fake! It was a wonderful way to cap off the otherwise insular tale, keeping the focus on Star Wars’ incredible female characters.
It is also, hopefully, an intentional reminder that Leia Organa has been one of the bravest, most important characters since the very beginning, and that she will continue to be so in the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VIII.