Speaking to Stephen Colbert on The Late Show, Abrams revealed the actress left him a message in The Princess Diarist, which was released in November 2016, a month before her passing.
He said, “I wasn’t supposed to work on this film [Rise of Skywalker], and she passed away before The Last Jedi was released, and she wrote this book.”
“She thanks me at the very end, she says, ‘Special thanks to J. J. Abrams, for putting up with me twice.’ And I had never worked with her before The Force Awakens and I wasn’t supposed to direct Episode IX. And it was a very Carrie thing to write something like that and to somehow know. It was really strange.”
Somehow, Fisher knew she’d work with Abrams again, even if it was after she passed away.
Colbert asked Abrams about the rumour that George Lucas had intended the third series of Star Wars films to be Leia’s story. The director responded that he didn’t know if that was the case or not, but explained how they brought Leia to life in the last film in the Skywalker saga.
“She was the greatest. And we knew that there was no way that we could finish this Skywalker saga without Leia. It was impossible. And we knew we’d never want to do a digital Leia and of course couldn’t recast it,” he said.
Thankfully, he figured out a way around it.
“I remembered we had these scenes that we had shot in The Force Awakens that we’d never used, which at the time I was really upset that we weren’t using them because it was Carrie and it was Leia and how do you not use them? But it just didn’t work in the movie. And weirdly, those scenes were material that we 100 per cent realised that could be used to tell her story in this film.
“So every time you’re seeing Leia in scenes with characters it’s Carrie in this movie.”
He added, “And I still can’t quite believe that she’s gone, because we’ve been working on these scenes in editorial and she’s as there as anyone. It’s really uncanny.”