Bad Robot-staple Greg Grunberg said it was both an emotional and complex experience piecing together unused scenes of the late Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia for the recent “Star Wars : The Rise of Skywalker”.
Grunberg, who also appeared in “The Force Awakens”, tells THR he’s proud of his friend and director J.J Abrams for how he handled such a delicate matter.
“When you’re a little apprehensive about that kind of thing, you have to trust who your boss is and who is really the creative mind behind it. So, I knew that J.J. — more than anyone else — would handle it with such respect and do it in a way that wouldn’t seem odd or digital in the worst way. I knew that J.J. would do it in such a tasteful way and represent her in the best light. That’s what I really cared about. I always say this, but as an actor, you have one audience member that you want to please, and that’s the director. If you make the crew laugh with a joke, then you’ve gone too far; it’s a hat on a hat. J.J. and I are best friends, so there’s a shorthand. From the beginning, I just said to him, “I think this is amazing what you’re doing, and I know you’re going to do it in the right way,” and he said, “Oh yeah. We’re reverse-engineering these scenes and looking at what footage we have and how we can write scenes around it.” It was a challenge, but I think he enjoyed it after the daunting responsibility set in. Again, not just putting the puzzle pieces together, but to be able to have a moment where she actually says, “Be optimistic,” is just wonderful. We got to show a little personality, and that’s what these movies are about to me. When Poe can make me laugh in the first ten minutes of the movie, I feel connected to the movie. It was really interesting and emotional because of the way they did it. The stand-in looked a lot like Carrie, and I know that was kind of tough for Billie. We were there for each other, and we tried to make light of it while respecting what we were doing. It really worked out, because it’s J.J. He knew exactly what he was doing and did a really great job. It was tricky, but it’s one of those things that I can look back on now and say, “Wow, I was a part of that, and I’m in that scene. That’s a part of film history.”
Grunberg said he didn’t have to pretend to be emotional when Leia passed away in the film.
“That was really tough. I didn’t have to pull from anything. That was just very, very real. To be standing there — and obviously it wasn’t her — all the emotions were right there. There’s not much that you have to think about; it just all comes naturally. I miss her so much. Also, the energy in that cavern from having three hundred-plus people behind me was really special. It was difficult, but emotion is what we all try to strive for and tap into as actors. I don’t want to use the term “easiest” but it was the “easiest” emotion to tap into because it felt so real.”
For more from the interview, including the actor’s thoughts on a rumored director’s cut of “Rise of Skywalker” click here.