By Jessica Dulaney
Carrie Fisher passed away on Tuesday, and even in a year plagued by unexpected celebrity deaths, this loss is astounding. We have lost not only a princess and a general, but also a funny, fearless, friendly woman who made her corner of the galaxy a brighter place for six decades.
Fisher’s most famous role as Leia Organa in Star Wars is singular, an arresting embodiment of wit, grace, and bravery. Throughout the original trilogy, Fisher fashions a full-fledged heroine in Leia, one who dodges stereotypes to be powerfully complex. While the Walt Disney Company may own the Star Wars franchise today, Leia Organa is no Disney princess. She does not bat her eyelashes or pine for a hero—she holds her own. Her earliest scenes in A New Hope immediately cement the strength of her character. Captured and taken to her enemies’ ship, she not only maintains her composure but also bristles with defiance. She scoffs at Grand Moff Tarkin’s bluster with a raise of her brows and a tone of withering condescension. She looks Darth Vader dead in the eye and defies him. Even after the Empire obliterates her planet and subjects her to torture, she refuses to break. In fact, once Han Solo and Luke Skywalker arrive to rescue her, she helps them escape the Empire as much as they help her. These scenes foreshadow the tone maintained throughout the trilogy, as Fisher stands shoulder-to-shoulder with her male co-stars. Her star power shines undeniably bright.
Fisher’s performance in 2015’s The Force Awakens further underscores her phenomenal talent. Now a general for the Resistance, Leia remains a bastion of warmth, strength, and wisdom. Despite the tremendous personal loss she faces at the hands of the First Order’s toxic regime, she has not lost her spark of hope or her tenacity. Fisher’s return to the iconic role is marked by gravity and grace and poignantly depicts the heroine’s struggle to persevere.
Off-screen, Fisher stole the show with her characteristic charm and brashness, her enthusiasm for her work always at the forefront. With service dog Gary in tow, she appeared on red carpets, daytime television, late night talk shows, and more. In interviews, she spoke candidly about her struggles with addiction and mental illness. She was always in good spirits, cracking jokes about her weight, her metal bikini, and her relationships with the cast and crew. She kept an impish gleam in her eye and a mischievous smile on her face. Online, legions of fans lovingly dubbed her their “space mom” and followed her escapades on social media. Her Twitter account teemed with her random observations, bits of wisdom, and thoughts on current events, usually communicated through her creative use of emojis, a language that even C3PO himself might have trouble deciphering. Fisher lovedStar Wars, but even more, she loved its fans and was clearly overjoyed to play along.
For decades, Carrie Fisher has shined in her role as Leia Organa and as an ambassador for the Star Wars franchise, and she has played a vital part in making those stories ring true for generations of fans around the world. Her legacy will always be linked with a galaxy far, far, away – and it’s unlikely that she would have minded. In her 2008 book Wishful Drinking, she recalls that George Lucas forbade her from wearing underwear because it would be dangerous to wear in space. Amused, Fisher quips that “no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”
As far as I am concerned, so be it. On December 27, 2016, Carrie Fisher, beloved actress, activist, and author, was drowned in moonlight and strangled by her own bra and is now one with the Force.
She will be missed.
Rest in peace, Carrie. Thanks for everything, and may the Force be with you.