Star Wars: The Last Jedi was a major hit over the weekend, earning over $220 million in the domestic box office. While the film is polarizing, no one can deny the profound impact that Carrie Fisher and her character of Princess Leia had on the immensely popular franchise. Having gone from princess to general, Fisher carved her own mark and defined what it means to be a badass woman. A notion that she had carried with her until her death, and one that has inspired not only her co-stars, but almost every woman on earth.
We had a chance to sit down with our fellow journalists to talk to the female cast of The Last Jedi about what it meant to them to star alongside Fisher and what they learned from her during the production of the film. Check out what they had to say here below.
Having a character like Leia in Star Wars meant a lot to the cast of The Last Jedi, mostly because she was not like any other character they had seen before. So she made a momentous impact on the female fan base that most certainly rippled throughout the many decades of Star Wars. So while she may play the villainous Captain Phasma, Gwendoline Christie says Leia was very significant. “I was first shown A New Hope when I was six, and I remember thinking ‘wow, that character is really different,'” Christie said. “I watched film and TV obsessively at a young age, but it stayed with me through my formative years. She’s really interesting. She’s really smart, she’s really funny, she’s courageous, she’s bold, she doesn’t care what people think, and she isn’t prepared to be told what to do. And she doesn’t look the same as a sort of homogenized presentation of a woman that we have been used to seeing.”
Christie felt as though the character of Leia paved the way for unapologetic female characters in film, one that did not have to be written with tired old feminine tropes, but be a character that could celebrate their individuality and personality. “That was instrumental to me as someone who didn’t feel like they fit in that homogenized view of what a woman was supposed to be, that there was inspiration there, that you can be an individual, that you can celebrate yourself, and be successful without giving yourself over, without necessarily making some terrible huge compromise,” Christie said. “She was a big inspiration for me. To play a character, from what we seen in The Force Awakens, I was very excited to be shown the basic elements of the costume, and here we were seeing a character whereby her femininity wasn’t delineated to the shape of her body in terms of her physical attractiveness, those elements that we’ve rammed and qualities that we are born with like some sort of odd lottery that we are judged on in society. I was just delighted to have that opportunity.”
Laura Dern, who plays Vice Admiral Holdo, also said that Fisher made a profound impact on her as a girl. While she had endless thoughts on what Fisher and Leia has done for women, she spoke to the present experience working opposite the late actress. “We always had Carrie, not just Leia,” Dern said. “Her wisdom. People speak about people who are brave and fearless, beyond that, luckily I’ve known a few people that would hold those descriptions, but not that they would be without shame. And that is what moved me the most about the icon that she gave us, and also what she gave us individually and personally, which is to carry who she was so directly, and to be without shame, and to share her story, and accept nothing less from any of us. The privilege of watching how Rian [Johnson] has so beautifully captured all of that and her grace in this amazing beautiful pure performance. She also found an equal irreverent subversive, and they had this dance that gives us this performance.”
Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey, followed that up with crediting Billie Lourd, Fisher’s daughter and fellow cast member, saying that she had all of her mother’s qualities. “She’s smart and funny and shameless and wonderful,” Ridley said. (Mark Hamill joked that she was always late.) Ridley added, “bringing up a daughter who is all of those qualities and then some, in this world, if that is what she is, her being her, I think it speaks volumes to what she did in the spotlight and what she did as Leia.”
Kelly Marie Tran, who plays Rose Tico, couldn’t agree more. “Something about Carrie that I look up to, and it’s something I didn’t realize until recently, it’s how much courage it takes to truly be yourself when you are on a public platform or when you are with possibly a lot of people looking at you,” Tran said. “She was so unapologetic, and so openly herself, and that is something I am really trying to do, and it’s hard.” She agreed with her fellow cast mates that the late actress would be an icon both as Leia and as Carrie. “What an example. I am so fortunate to have met her and I think she will really live on forever.”
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theaters now. Check out our full coverage of the film.