Like Ross Geller, the TV fictional character David Schwimmer played on “Friends” (1994-2004), my childhood fantasy was seeing Princess Leia in that skimpy gold bikini outfit. She was collared to slug crimelord Jabba the Hutt in “Return of the Jedi” (1983). For many of us young boys in middle school, one year away from starting high school and beginning to realize our hormones were kicking in, Carrie Fisher’s (1956-2016) feisty rebellious heroine from that “galaxy far, far away” was a 1980s sci-fi sex symbol.
We saw Princess Leia, as a result of that infamous costume, as a pop-culture icon. Some of us (OK, may be just me) posted her picture inside of their locker door in middle school. Young girls looked to her as empowering, especially when she wrapped that steel chain around Jabba’s neck. The shot, according to IMDB.com, was inspired by the garroting scene of mafia henchman Luca Brasi in “The Godfather” (1972).
Ironically, despite the costume’s immense popularity with fanboys and “fangirls” who walked the floors of yearly sci-fi conventions sporting the same slavegirl outfit, Fisher was not crazy about the idea during the filming of “Jedi”.
When “The Force Awakens” premiered last December, she told co-star Daisy Ridley she should fight for her outfit.
“Don’t be a slave like I was. You keep fighting for that slave outfit.”
For me and countless fans who grew up watching the“Star Wars” trilogy (1977-1983) and seeing “Episode VII: The Force Awakens” (2015), Dec. 27 was a “Xanax day,” as comedienne Chelsea Handler tweeted after Fisher died on that date. Fisher was Hollywood royalty. She was born to famous parents – singer Eddie Fisher and screen legend Debbie Reynolds – and was not just an actress but an author and screenwriter in her own right. Fisher was 60 when she died almost four days after suffering a massive heart attack during a flight from London to Los Angeles.
Comments came from around the world, the most heartbreaking being a tweetThe Hollywood Reporter attributed to Fisher’s French therapy bulldog, Gary. A shot showing him looking out the window waiting for “mommy” to come home was accompanied with the tweet, “I’ll be waiting right here mommy.”
Like so many Hollywood actors and actresses who have a long list to their credit, it would be the role of Princess Leia with which fans most identify her. Whereas some might hate being known for only one role, Fisher welcomed it.
“Look, I’ve been Princess Leia for 40 years: So what, I’m gonna stop now that it’s really ridiculous to be someone named Princess Leia or General Leia? It’s ridiculous. I mean ridiculous in a good way.”
It wasn’t just her role in the “Star Wars” franchise that made her famous. The actress had battled drug addiction since her 20s and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She turned her book, “Postcards from the Edge,” into a screenplay and later a film in 1990. The film starred Oscar winners Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine, who dramatized her personal battles with family life, stardom and addiction. Through it all Fisher accepted her illness. Others who suffered from depression looked to Fisher as their spokesperson at a time when so-called “normal” people put a stigma on those who suffer from mental illness.
Writer Greame McMillan wrote in The Hollywood Reporter that Fisher was “someone we’ve known and loved for most of our lives.”
That’s what makes her passing at 60 so devastating and unexpected. I never met Fisher and yet I feel close to her. It’s hard to believe she’s gone now. The only comfort is the words Yoda spoke in “Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” (2005).
“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not,” said Yoda.
Fisher is now one with “the Force” somewhere in that other “galaxy far, far away,” alongside her mother, Debbie Reynolds, who passed away from complications of a strokethe next day at 84. The screen legend was making funeral arrangements for her daughter at the time.