We saw Rogue One this weekend, a few days after Carrie Fisher went into cardiac arrest on the way home to Los Angeles from London. In the final scenes of the movie, the card with the plans for the Death Star are given to a luminous Princess Leia. (We came home and watched Episode IV. Rogue One makes Episode IV, which takes place just hours later, an infinitely better movie.)
Fisher is invariably linked with Princess Leia, and she simultaneously managed to embrace the rabid Star Wars fandom and not take it–or herself–too seriously. I’ve seen some notes Fisher made to the Star Wars scripts when she was filming the original trilogy, and under her guidance, Leia– despite being braless in the first film and in a ludicrous metal bikini in the third–is undoubtedly a leader. She’s instrumental in her own rescue from the Death Star. She manages all rebel efforts to take down the weapon. In the third movie, she rescues Han and then singlehandedly strangles Jabba the Hutt. She’s the biological child of Darth Vader and at no point does she ever pick up a light saber, but there’s absolutely no question that she’d ever consider the Dark Side.
Fisher went on to be a screenwriter and script doctor for a number of years and write several memoirs. She had a difficult relationship with her mother, controlled substances, and her mental health, and she was painfully honest and forthright about everything. She didn’t hide behind a publicist or a filtered Instagram account. I can’t possibly overstate this enough, but she lived life on her terms. For a woman older than 50 in Hollywood, even when she’s arguably Hollywood royalty herself, this is nearly impossible.
She made science fiction a better place for the ladies–I’d argue that characters from Starbuck in the Battlestar Galactica reboot to Zoe in Firefly wouldn’t be possible without Leia–and it’s only fitting that she is now among the stars.