J.J. Abrams stunned by 'weirdly miraculous' discovery of unseen Carrie Fisher footage

J.J. Abrams is amazed that the unused takes featured the screen star saying almost exactly what he needed her to say.

J.J. Abrams remains stunned by the "weirdly miraculous" discovery of unseen footage featuring Carrie Fisher that enabled her character to appear in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

The actress reprised her role as Princess Leia when the sci-fi franchise was revived in 2015 with The Force Awakens, which was directed by Abrams, but she passed away before the release of her next outing as Leia in 2017's The Last Jedi, helmed by Rian Johnson. Abrams, who helmed the upcoming The Rise of Skywalker, didn't want to conclude the trilogy without Leia or digitally recreate her or recast the role, and was saved by the discovery of old footage from The Force Awakens.

And while the decision to include footage of Carrie after her death divided opinion among some fans, the filmmaker remains stunned that the unused takes featured the screen star saying almost exactly what they needed her to say.

"The reality that we had the material that was actually her saying things that we needed her to say was vaguely, weirdly miraculous," he said during an interview on the Australian TV show The Project.

However, he admitted that if the actress was still around "we would have done a few different things. We would have added some stuff that would have been great."

He jokingly added: "And she would be here today which would make the day much more fun."

During the interview, Richard E. Grant, who plays Allegiant General Pryde, revealed his own doubts over using the old footage.

"To kind of exhume that footage from another movie and if it wasn't good enough for the other movie, why should it be good enough for the end?" he mused. "All those caveats or anxieties I had about it were completely put to rest when I saw how they'd done it. It is seamless."

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