|RISE OF SKYWALKERCARRIE FISHERDAISY RIDLEYSKYWALKER|
There’s one particularly telling and effective moment in The Skywalker Legacy, the feature-lenght documentary that’s included on the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker home release that sums up much of the ambivalence and consternation that some had with J.J. Abrams’ return to the Star Wars universe. After showing the intricate construction of a giant, practical snake monster, the doc cuts back to footage of Jabba The Hutt, that old analogue beast that slithered its way into our hearts. The sentiment is clear – we’re making movies like we used to! A celebration of practical effects, the dripping of k-y jelly to give viscosity just like the old costume days, it’s all there. There’s excitement on set, everyone talking about how amazing it looks, how lifelike, how this is how you’re supposed to do movies like this.
Cut to Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett who shatters the myth, letting us know the creature was replaced by a CGI version in post.
Guyett’s resume is mighty. Having made his bones on groundbreaking films like Twister and Casper, he helped Spielberg bring the events of D-Day to screen in Saving Private Ryan, helped bring to life the best looking film in the Harry Potter series, Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban, and even made the theatrical version of Rent feel more than a stage production. Guyett has had many collaborations with Abrams – from the Star Trek Reboots through The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker he was even second unit director on the former, as well as working with George Lucas on Episode III to round off the prequels. He’s in a unique position to speak to these changing landscapes of epic filmmaking.
We spoke at length about the apparent contradictions and indulgences in making a Star Wars film, and he made the case for why nothing was wasted and all contributed to the final presentation. He was erudite and open to the discussion, making for a dream conversation with a man who quite literally has helped shape what amazes us on screen for decades.
The following has been edited for clarity and concision.
We see practical effects being championed as almost a marketing ploy with the “postquels” as a mix of nostalgia and an attempt to delineate from Lucas’ second trilogy. In some ways the love of the practically-realized snake undercuts the extraordinary CGI you and your team accomplished, and raises questions about why the need to fetishize the on-set inclusions when they’re replaced anyway. Could you talk about that ethos, that somehow doing stuff on a computer is a “cheat” while doing an effect practically is not?
I think at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the best that we can, trying to make the best, most dramatic or emotional movie we can visually. I’m coming from figuring out how do you get the most...
Billie Lourd did end up playing Leia Organa in The Rise of Skywalker. It had been rumored that Lourd was stepping in back in the spring of 2019, but it wasn't confirmed until now. Carrie Fisher passed away at the end of 2016 after she finished shooting The Last Jedi, which meant that there were going to have to be some major changes for the third and final installment in the sequel trilogy. J.J. Abrams stepped in and he and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy announced that they would be taking unused footage from The Force Awakens to include her in The Rise of Skywalker.
However, there is one particular scene where it is not Carrie Fisher playing Leia. During the flashback sequence when Luke Skywalker and Leia are training, it's actually Fisher's daughter, Billie Lourd. Mark Hamill played young Luke and then Industrial Light and Magic de-aged his face. Lourd took on the role of her mother and they replaced her face with footage of Fisher from Return of the Jedi. ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Patrick Tubach explains.'Billie was playing her mother. It was a poignant thing, and something that nobody took lightly - that she was willing to stand in for her mom.'
Carrie Fisher is a big piece of the Star Wars puzzle and her appearance in The Rise of Skywalker was not taken lightly. Nor was the decision for Billie Lourd to step in and play the young Leia. J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson have spoken a lot about Fisher's friendship and what she brought to the table over the years. And Patrick Tubach also talked about how heavy the situation of having Lourd step in really was. He explains.'It was an emotional thing for everybody to see her in that position. It felt great for us, too. If you're going to have someone play [Fisher's] part, it's great that it's [Billie] because there are a lot of similarities between them that we were able to draw from. The real challenge was just making the Leia footage we had to work with fit in that scene.'
As for any additional footage of the training flashback scene, there is no more. 'What you see is what we developed,' says visual effects supervisor, Roger Guyett. For Guyett, there was a firm understanding of the job they had to do for that particular scene in The Rise of Skywalker. And in that understanding, there was a whole new challenge. Guyett had this to say about bringing back young Leia.'The idea was to provide this great surprise where they take the helmets off, and you see Luke and Leia's younger faces. We scoured outtakes from the original movies, and we took some pieces and then had to try and figure out the technical aspect of putting that shot together.'
Will Billie Lourd ever take over for her mother again in the Star Wars franchise? It could happen down the line, but there are no current plans to do so. 'The truth is that Carrie was a friend of J.J. and Billie is a friend of J.J.,' says Roger Guyett. 'They talked a lot about that, and I think the heart of it is...
RuPaul’s Drag Race is coming in hot for season 12 with an all-star roster of guest judges who are ready to sashay and slay the Emmy-award winning reality competition which is set to premiere on February 28 on VH1.
As seen in the trailer for the 12th season, this season’s queens will be pledging allegiance “to the drag” of the “United Queens of Ru-America”. Because it is such a patriotic season, it only makes sense that they have trailblazing politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the judges’ panel this season. Others joining previously announced judge Nicki Minaj include Saturday Night Live alum Leslie Jones, actor Jeff Goldblum, Academy Award-winning actress and View co-host Whoopi Goldberg, music icon Chaka Khan and Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley. Other guest judges include Robyn, Normani, Thandie Newton, Olivia Munn, Rachel Bloom, Daniel Franzese, Jonathan Bennett and Winnie Harlow. The “ru-volution” will be televised with the premiere airing over two consecutive Friday nights.
The 13 queens competing for the coveted title of “America's Next Drag Superstar” and $100,000. will be Aiden Zhane Acworth, GA, Brita New York, NY, Crystal Methyd Springfield, MO, Dahlia Sin Los Angeles, CA, Gigi Goode Los Angeles, CA, Heidi N Closet Ramseur, NC, Jackie Cox New York, NY, Jaida Essence Hall Milwaukee, WI, Jan New York, NY, Nicky Doll New York, NY, Rock M. Sakura San Francisco, CA, Sherry Pie New York, NY, and Widow Von'Du Kansas City, MO.
RuPaul's Drag Race and RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked are produced by World of Wonder Productions with Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, Tom Campbell, Steven Corfe, Mandy Salangsang and RuPaul Charles serving as Executive Producers. Tim Palazzola serves as Executive Producer for VH1 and Jen Passovoy serves as Producer. Last year, RuPaul's Drag Race won second consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Competition Program and Charles picked up his fourth consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program to tie Jeff Probst for most wins in the category. The franchise has also expanded to become a live stage show in Las Vegas and has made its way across the pond with RuPaul's Drag Race UK.
Check out a sneak peek below of the guest judges and the queens in this “Ru-volutionary” season!