Ingvild Deila, the “Ghost Actress” behind Princess Leia in Rogue One, has spoken with MIT Technology Review about how the role was executed, and how the part has changed her life.
Check out an extract below, and head over to MIT Technology Review for the whole interview.
Ingvild Deila had one of the most talked-about roles in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but she was only on screen for about 15 seconds. No one even saw her face. Yet she can now claim on her IMDB page that she was once Princess Leia.
In reality, she was playing Carrie Fisher playing Princess Leia. She was the body—the human puppet—behind the digital reconstruction of the 19-year-old Fisher at the end of the movie.
She spent months studying Fisher’s facial expressions, prepping for just seconds on screen. Deila pored over interview clips and movie close-ups. She even read Fisher’s autobiography.
When it came to the role itself, she spent about three days in a studio getting scanned by Industrial Light and Magic, and only one on set. To create the scan, the visual effects gurus showed her a picture of Fisher that she had to mimic. Hundreds of lights were then flashed around her to capture detailed images of her face in a variety of lighting conditions. This scan served as the base on which Fisher’s 19-year-old face was overlaid for the final scene. “It was so strange. I could tell it’s me, but it’s also definitely not me,” she says. “It’s hard to describe that feeling. You now can see a bit of what it feels like with apps like Snapchat where you can put layers and swap faces.
Almost two years later, even though it was the smallest role of her career in terms of screen time, it’s still what she is best known for. Those 15 seconds have opened doors for her, helping her land larger roles. She’s appearing—with her own face—in an upcoming movie called Escape from Brazil. Ghost-acting for Fisher has also thrown her into the sci-fi and comic convention scene, with invites to attend conferences in Europe and South America.