I would be lying if I said I knew Fisher beyond her contribution to the original Star Wars films. On IMDb she has 88 acting credits–including playing herself on a TV show I like, The Big Bang Theory–and some other credits as writer. She even was the producer of a TV movie called These Old Broads.
Along with a bunch of award nominations, and a couple wins, under her name, Fisher certainly has a career to boast about. Despite learning about her accomplishments in lieu of her tragic death on December 27th, I still find her role as Princess Leia the most enticing to write about.
In the gigantic intergalactic battle that we are introduced to in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, you could always rely on Princess Leia to be that warm female presence in a screenplay devoid of female characters. In episode IV she confronts the haunting Darth Vader trying to deliver an important transmission about a fatal flaw in the new Death Star the Empire are building. In episode V she rescues her brother after a disastrous encounter with their father. And in episode VI, she disguises herself as a bounty hunter to rescue Han, only to become enslaved by Jubba the Hutt. Did I say Princess Leia was a warm female presence? She’s actually kind of bodacious.
Even as the Star Wars films come under attack for not being very progressive, Princess Leia is certainly a good piece of female representation in mainstream Hollywood, especially when considering the time period in which these films came out. Not only does she play an integral part of the story, which only expands with importance as the series develops, she often finds herself on the ground helping out the heroes of the story accomplish their missions or convincing them to fight the evil Empire. For example, when she gets rescued by Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in episode IV, she immediately goes for a gun to help escape the incompetent storm troopers guarding the ship, proving herself to be resourceful, courageous, and skilled time and time again.
Princess Leia: Well somebody has to save our skins. Into the garbage, fly-boy!
However, Princess Leia isn’t just a war hero dressed up as a galactic princess. She’s also flawed. I think this is an important piece to all great and interesting characters. And I think this is where Carrie Fisher, the actress, shines as a human being. As Ellen remembers of her…
I loved when she was here. She made me laugh so hard. She was smart, she was funny, she was hilariously honest about herself and the world around her.
When you watch interviews of her, this likeable side to her is on full display. Here, she admits to drinking 16 Cokes per day and losing weight for her Star Wars role, but never in an awkward way where its imbued with insecurity and pettiness. She was blatantly honest–you knew she was telling the truth–she accepted her flaws and she never seemed too embarrassed to share her most personal stories with the public and fans.
Princess Leia, the movie character, reflected this aspect of Fisher’s personality in some ways. Although she was a strong, triumphant leader of the Rebel Alliance, she also proved to be envious and immature. She fell hard for Han Solo, both on screen and off screen, and did silly and stupid things to gain his attention or to hide her true feelings for him. Some of the most memorable movie characters comes in pairs for me, and its no wonder Han Solo and Princess Leia have become an inseparable icon of the Star Wars legacy. The actors’ chemistry was genuine and their relationship has been imitated but never replicated to this level of charisma or intimacy.
In a film series as beloved as the original Star Wars trilogy, it’s sometimes easy to overlook Carrie Fisher’s contribution to the enriched movie saga. There were so many unforgettable characters and Princess Leia was an integral part of the cast. To some, Carrie Fisher will be that sexy princess figure that girls dress up as in Halloween. To others, Fisher will be an early symbol of female empowerment amidst a space opera adventure depicting the battle between good and evil. Wherever you land on the spectrum, I think its easy to say that Carrie Fisher will be missed in 2017 and beyond. I loved Princess Leia, but you probably already knew that.