Carrie Fisher is an indelible part of American popular culture. She’s most known for better or worse as the rebel leader Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” franchise.
Later in the films, she became General Leia Organa, the founder of the Resistance. As such, Leia is a hero, while Fisher remains admired by untold millions of people worldwide.
Fisher passed away at age 60 in late 2016, but Leia’s prominence in the culture only grew from there. Even after her passing, she appeared in “The Rise of Skywalker” in 2020, thanks to complex visual effects.
Although her movie role as Princess Leia is iconic, Carrie Fisher was also an accomplished actress, author of multiple novels, and a screenwriter. Since her teenage years, Fisher was acting on Broadway with her famous Hollywood mother, Debbie Reynolds.
So, what made Princess Leia so compelling? The New York Times put it this way:
“Ms. Fisher established Princess Leia as a damsel who could very much deal with her own distress, whether facing down the villainy of the dreaded Darth Vader or the romantic interests of the roguish smuggler Han Solo.”
Leia was a leader: tough, and anything but helpless. Offscreen, Carrie Fisher poked fun at the character, which she didn’t take too seriously. In her memoir, “The Princess Diarist,” Fisher remarked on her dual-bun hairstyle and makeup:
“And who wears that much lip gloss into battle? Me, or Leia, of course.”
A Comic Genius
In reality, Carrie Fisher was hilarious with a biting wit, and it comes through in all her interviews and appearances. For example, in 2005, she roasted Star Wars creator George Lucas at his AFI Lifetime Achievement Award.
During the roast, she poked fun at Lucas and her appearance in the Star Wars films.
“George is a sadist, but like any abused child wearing a metal bikini chained to a giant slug about to die, I keep coming back for more.”
“You have owned my likeness all these years, so every time I look in the mirror, I have to send you a check for a couple of bucks.”
“You had that unmitigated gall to let that chick, the new girl who plays my mother, Queen Amadillo, or whatever her name is, she wears a new hairstyle and outfit practically every time she walks through a door. I bet she gets to wear a bra, even though you told me I couldn’t because there is no underwear in space!”
See the genius roast below from the American Film Institute:
Real-Life Affair with Harrison Ford
In the memoir, Carrie Fisher revealed an affair with fellow actor Harrison Ford, though he was married. The affair was short-lived during the filming of the first movie. Not even co-star Mark Hamill knew although the two were extremely close.
Thus, she preferred to call it “a very long one-night stand.” She was nineteen at the time and recorded in her journal, which later became the basis for her memoir. Notably, Fisher had forgotten writing the journals until finding them in late 2014.
Thus, the onscreen chemistry is quite real.
See Fisher discuss her affair with Ford from TODAY:
Carrie Fisher’s Friendship with Mark Hamill
Today, actor Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker, keeps Fisher’s memory alive on social media. Since her passing, he continues to share tributes to her regularly, celebrating her rebellious real-life persona.
Below, Hamill shared a canonized Carrie Fisher, flying the bird, as she was often humorously seen doing. Here, she holds her therapy dog, Gary, who now lives in Florida with Fisher’s former assistant, Corby McCoin. Gary helped Fisher with bipolar disorder, which she was very public about.
The Real Last Jedi?
Fisher was active on social media with feisty, often snarky comments. For example, after seeing how critical people were of her appearance in The Last Jedi, Fisher unapologetically called on people to stop commenting on her age.
In the movie, Luke Skywalker is assumed to be the last of his kind. However, according to Fisher’s brother, Todd Fisher, the original plans were quite different. Leia would emerge as a “fully-fledged Jedi warrior.”
“She was going to be the big payoff in the final film,” Todd Fisher said. “She was going to be the last Jedi, so to speak,” reported CNET.
Instead, Leia trains Rey to be a Jedi in The Rise of Skywalker. Thus, she hands off the baton to the future, in this case, her lightsaber. The film reveals why Leia sets her lightsaber aside long ago.
Embracing Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, she says, “Rey, never be afraid of who you are.”
An Iconic Moment That Almost Wasn’t
Today, a quote between Leia and Han Solo remains as popular as ever.
In The Empire Strikes Back, the Princess finally professes her love for the smuggler, Han Solo. (Harrison Ford) As he is about to be frozen in carbonite by Darth Vader, she says, “I love you,” to which Solo replies, “I know.”
It’s the last line Solo speaks to Leia in the film. According to legend, Ford changed the line from the scripted, “I love you, too.” However, the shooting script reveals both actors changed their lines.
“After Han kisses Leia, she says, ‘I love you. I couldn’t tell you before, but it’s true.’ But he doesn’t say, ‘I love you’ — his line is ‘Just remember that, ’cause I’ll be back.'”
On the day of shooting, Ford and director Irvin Kershner agreed to change the lines because Ford thought, “If she says, ‘I love you,’ and I say, ‘I know,’ it’s beautiful and it’s acceptable and it’s funny.” Ford also suggested reassuring Leia by saying, “I’ll be back,” but the director cut the line.
Interestingly, Fisher was annoyed that Ford changed the lines without her input. When they filmed the scene, Fisher was not speaking to Ford over the dispute. Later, Fisher came to appreciate the humor of Ford’s line.
“When they first showed the dailies to the cast and crew, they used the live sound and so when I say, ‘I love you,’ I was body-miked and it was at the right level,” Fisher tells Rinzler. “But when Harrison replied, it came out a loud echo: ‘I KNOW!’ Well, the cast and crew laughed for about 15 minutes.… But it works because they actually can make the transition from that laugh into the fact that is something very sad.”
Forty years later, the line is considered one of the best actor-improvised lines in film history.
Fisher knew that she had achieved a rare status of enduring fame thanks to Leia.
“Perpetual celebrity — the kind where any mention of you will interest a significant percentage of the public until the day you die, even if that day comes decades after your last real contribution to the culture — is exceedingly rare, reserved for the likes of Muhammad Ali.”
Indeed, Princess Leia and Carrie Fisher are permanently part of our culture. Although she passed too soon, she will always be the fearless leader of the Resistance in our hearts. As with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we must pick up where they left off.
The Resistance lives on forever.
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Featured images: Screenshots via YouTube