Carrie Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, pays tribute to her late mother and the iconic Star Wars character she played, Princess Leia, in a new essay for Time.
Ahead of the release of the final film, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Lourd wrote about her evolving relationship with Leia. As a child, she “didn’t really like” the famous character, but she grew to and went on to appear in two Star Wars films, playing Lieutenant Connix, alongside with her mom.
Now, with Fisher gone, Lourd talks about inheriting the job of “keeper of Princess Leia.”
“I grew up with three parents: a mom, a dad [Bryan Lourd] and Princess Leia,” Lourd, 27, wrote.
“I guess Princess Leia was kind of like my stepmom – technically family, but deep down I didn’t really like her. She literally and metaphorically lived on a planet I had never been to. When Leia was around, there wasn’t as much room for my mom – for Carrie.
Read more: Leia was meant to be ‘the last Jedi’
“As a child, I couldn’t understand why people loved Leia as much as they did. I didn’t want to watch her movie, I didn’t want to dress up like her, I didn’t even want to talk about her. I just wanted my mom – the one who lived on Earth, not Tatooine.”
She never wanted to watch Star Wars as a kid — until she was 10 and boys talked about the way they “fantasised” about their movie star mum.
“My mom? The lady who wore glitter makeup like it was lotion and didn’t wear a bra to support her much-support-needed DD/F’s?” Lourd wondered.
“They couldn’t be talking about her! I had to investigate who this person was they were talking about.” So she watched the film and quickly “realised no one is, or ever will be, as hot or as cool as Princess F***ing Leia.”
Lourd wrote about attending Comic-Com with her mom and seeing first hand what Fisher and Leia mean to people.
“People of all ages from all over the world were dressed up like my mom, the lady who sang me to sleep at night and held me when I was scared,” Lourd wrote. “Watching the amount of joy it brought to people when she hugged them or threw glitter in their faces was incredible to witness. People waited in line for hours just to meet her. People had tattoos of her. People named their children after her. People had stories of how Leia saved their lives. It was a side of my mom I had never seen before. And it was magical.”
She wrote that “Leia is more than just a character. She’s a feeling. She is strength. She is grace. She is wit. She is femininity at its finest.” She also said that “no one could have played her like my mother.”
While Lourd’s parents kept her out of showbiz as a child, when she graduated from college, Fisher said there was a request for Lourd to audition for 2015’s Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens. Trying to play it off as if it was no big deal, Lourd did — and was over the moon when she got the role of Lieutenant Connix in the J.J Abrams-directed film.
Read more: Fisher was a total boss
Lourd talked about bonding with Fisher in a different way on the set. In hair and makeup, she was given mini–Leia buns and her mom “stood in the mirror behind me and smiled like we had gotten matching tattoos. Our secret-handshake hairstyle.” She said Fisher was “protective” of her on the set, constantly checking on her. As they drove home that night, Fisher told her, for the first time, that Lourd should consider acting professionally.
They went on to work together again in 2017’s Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi — and even more meaningful experience, she recalled — but, tragically, Fisher died unexpectedly in 2016 before it came out.
Lourd recalled one of their last conversations was about Fisher was already looking ahead to the next movie in the trilogy, The Rise of Skywalker, out Dec. 20, which “was going to be Leia’s movie. Her movie” in which “the princess became the general.” However, life intervened.
“My mom died on Dec. 27, 2016,” wrote Lourd. “Two days after Christmas, four days before New Year’s and about a year before she was supposed to appear in her final Star Wars film. Losing my mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. I lost my best friend. My little lady in the TV. My Momby. And I inherited this weird, intimidating thing called her legacy. Suddenly I was in charge of what would come of her books, her movies and a bunch of other overwhelming things. I was now the keeper of Leia.”
And as the keeper of Leia, she was touched when Abrams called to say that they had enough footage of Fisher to complete Leia’s story in The Rise of Skywalker, which she says left her “speechless.” Lourd also agreed to reprise her role, which she said was “one of the most painful, difficult things I would ever do, but I said yes for her–for my mom. For Leia. For everyone Leia means so much to.”
Lourd said she can’t wait to have one more film to one day show her kids of “Mommy and Grandma” together. And ended by writing, “I grew up with three parents: a mom, a dad and Princess Leia. Initially, Princess Leia was kind of like my stepmom. Now she’s my guardian angel. And I’m her keeper.”
Lourd’s uncle and Fisher’s brother, Todd Fisher, talked to Yahoo Entertainment about the upcoming film and how they used “eight minutes of footage” of his sister for the new film.
“They grabbed every frame and analysed it,” Todd said, “and then reverse-engineered it and [got] it into the story the right way. It’s kind of magical.”
Todd also revealed how the story was supposed to play out prior to his sister’s death, explaining, “She was going to be the last Jedi.”