This weekend, Carrie Fisher’s last performance hit theaters with Star Wars: The Last Jedi. After 40 years, our time growing closer to Princess Leia has come to an end, as we lost Carrie Fisher last year. Since Star Wars originally hit theaters in 1977, Carrie has served as a trailblazer for the entire industry and has left behind a legacy of confidence that still inspires many to this day.
When Fisher was just 19, Princess Leia stole everyone’s hearts when Star Wars was first introduced to fans. Even at a young age, Carrie was bold, independent, and incredibly confident. Leia betrayed everything that Hollywood was expecting from women in movies at the time. She was a Princess who would grab her own blaster and fight off the Stormtroopers instead of waiting for someone to save her. Princess Leia could be categorized as an anti-damsel in distress. The same could definitely be said of Carrie Fisher. From the very beginning, she was a strong woman in a time where it wasn’t as common as it is today.
As her fame grew, Carrie became much more open with her struggles with mental illness and the other things that didn’t come with fame. In yet another unprecedented move for the time, Carrie talked openly, even jokingly, to a usually uncomfortable audience. She wrote in her first book that “If my life wasn’t funny it would just be true and that is unacceptable”. The most empowering part of the way Carrie shared her story was that she was never a victim of her circumstances or her choices. She told her tale with bravery, honestly, and always coated in humor. Her openness to sharing her struggles, even when her mother objected, created a strong bond between her and her fans, unlike anything the public had seen before. Up until the time of her very sudden death, Carrie continued to create an active conversation, helping those that looked up to her feel less alone.
As time pushed on, Carrie continued to be unapologetically herself no matter what was thrown her way. She continued to be just as outspoken and energetic as she was when she was in her teens, and it was clear that she took her position in Hollywood seriously. Carrie continued to have strong conversations about mental health and was an open book about every stumble and failure to help steer young actors away from the same mistakes.
The creation of The Last Jedi was no different from any previous movie in Carrie Fisher’s career. She was the comic relief the entire cast could look to in times of hardship, or even when they simply needed a friend. John Boyega recounts breaking his strict Star Wars diet in Carrie’s trailer “because Carrie Fisher told me to. And it [felt] great”. Rian Johnson would look to Fisher for ideas for scenes and he would walk away with books full of material. Until the very end, Carrie was a positive influence on every aspect of the Star Wars set.
Princess Leia has an undeniably iconic role in pop culture. Even people that have never seen Star Wars can recognize the infamous cinnamon roll hair buns that were introduced to audiences in A New Hope. The most important role was played by the person behind the crazy hairstyles. Carrie Fisher was just what the Star Wars saga needed in a female lead, and will be sorely missed.