Last month at Star Wars Celebration VI in Orlando, FL, fans had the opportunity to meet Star Wars legend Carrie Fisher in person and learn just what Princess Leia herself thought about the three movies that catapulted her character into pop-culture icon status.
Soon after taking the stage at the convention on Saturday night, Fisher announced, “This is the most signing I think I’ve ever done. It’s a great experience, but I am a little more exhausted than usually, probably because I’m more elderly,” she joked, adding, “But please don’t tell anyone.”
The now 56-year-old actress was just 20 years old when filming began on Star Wars. Now 35 years after the movie’s release, she admitted to being more than a little amused when one young fan at the convention had stared at her very closely before blurting out, “’You look so… grown up.’
“Which was a nice way of putting it, I thought,” Carrie smiled. “She didn’t say that I acted grown up, which would have been inaccurate, of course.”
Fisher, the daughter of Hollywood legends Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, was quick to point out that she came from a celebrity family where people-pleasing was ingrained. “I didn’t decide to go into show business. The neater trick would be for me to stay out.”
Her onstage talk at the convention was full of her memories and adventures while filming the Star Wars trilogy, plus a few well-known misadventures.
“I did Star Wars because I read the script and I thought it was awesome. I read it with a friend of mine, out loud. I wanted to play Han Solo, of course, because that was the best part,” Fisher teased. “I thought it would be such a fun thing to do because I’d be the only girl in an all-boy fantasy — and it wouldn’t be a porn movie. So, two pluses right there.”
None of the cast expected that the movie would become such a cultural phenomenon. “Nothing had been that kind of a hit, so none of us would have had anything to compare it to,” she explained. “They booked us to do all this publicity, and then it ended up not really needing it.
“I used to have a friend drive me around and look at the lines [outside of the movie theaters].” In fact, the term “blockbuster” was created for Star Wars, because, as Fisher explained, “It meant that the lines busted the block.”
“These lines of people, it was so amazing. One time we were driving around looking at the lines and think I may have — now don’t tell anyone – I may have said, ‘I’m Princess Leia!’”
In response to the Team A and Team B Star Wars casting story that Mark Hamill mentioned in his talk on the previous evening, Fisher admitted to knowing about another girl up for the part of Princess Leia at the time.
“Either they were going to go with someone who was really pretty, or someone with a big personality,” she laughed. “I’m going to let you guess who they picked.”
Even after 35 years Fisher could still recall the first Star Wars scene that she shot, which included what she’d thought was the weirdest dialogue ever, the words made all the more memorable for her delivery of them in a spotty British accent which did not resurface for the remainder of the trilogy.
“Governor Tarkin, I thought I recognized your foul stench when I arrived on board,” she emoted for the audience. “Now, how do you say that and not say it with a British accent? I guess I don’t know.”
Fisher protested that it would have been more natural to say, “Governor Tarkin, I came on board the ship and I thought, ‘What is that smell? And, of course – it’s you!’”
“But George [Lucas] said to me, ‘No, you’re really, really serious. You’re very, very upset. They’ve blown up all your friends … and your clothes … and your stepfather … and your collection of troll dolls,’” Fisher joked. And so she tried what she thought was a more serious reading, which ended up sounding pseudo-British.
Fisher also described a scene in the original movie that was excised from the script, in which a captured Princess Leia was to have been discovered unconscious and hanging upside down in a subterranean level of the Death Star. In this scene Chewbacca was to have rescued Leia and carried her out through standing water. “I really feel like I missed out on that,” Fisher joked. “But Peter Mayhew [who played the Wookiee] isn’t as strong as he is tall, so they cut it out.”
In response to a question about the notorious 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, Fisher crowed, “It’s so bad, it’s not even good. It’s just torture!”
Even George Lucas has been quoted as saying that he would be happy if every copy of the special were destroyed. “If I had the time and a hammer, I would track down every copy of that program and smash it,” he once reportedly said, according to Kevin J. Anderson. author of The Illustrated Star Wars Universe.
To prove the cringe-worthiness of the holiday special, Fisher treated the audience to an impromptu rendition of the first few bars of the Wookiee Life Day song, right before host James Arnold Taylor played a video clip from the show.
“I think that was one of those deals that George made before he thought the movie would be a hit,” Fisher laughed. “It was as if you had the ‘I Love Lucy’ show with Wookiees! I just wish it was as funny as it sounds.”
It might surprise fans to learn that the actress who donned that now iconic gold metal bikini for Return of the Jedi to instantly become the stuff of fantasy for thousands of teenage boys all across the planet did not consider herself sexy at the time.
“When George first showed me the outfit I was supposed to be hardly wearing I thought he was joking. I didn’t realize until much, much later that I was sort of a pin-up.”
“I had a guy say to me once, ‘I thought of you every day from when I was 12 until I was 22!’ I said, ‘Every day?’ And he said, ‘Well…four times a day.’ Now what was I supposed to say to that?”
Fisher admitted that The Empire Strikes Back was by far her favorite movie of the original trilogy. “The unbelievable thing was that normally you make a movie and you don’t know how it’s going to do. And with this movie there was a built-in audience. There was this odd thing of kind of knowing that it would be a hit movie. You were excited, you could tell it was really good. Listen, I wanted to see it!”
Fisher’s comic retelling of Star Wars memories, witty off-color jokes and easy ability to make her interviewer blush made for an hilarious and enjoyable evening. It was easy to see that she is still that one-of-a-kind Princess with an attitude.