To Star Wars fans, both male and female, Carrie Fisher’s portrayal of Princess Leia was iconic, both in 1977, when she first appeared in “Star Wars,” and today. Leia was beautiful, sharp-witted, courageous, and strong, during a period when women were rarely depicted as more than just damsels in distress.
Leia gave little girls and young women a hero to look up to, but that character could never have been played with such perfection had it not been Fisher in the role. She was a warrior before women warriors were accepted in Hollywood. Although she was only 19 years old when she first began filming “Star Wars,” Fisher exuded the confidence of a much more seasoned actress when she looked Harrison Ford in the eye and called him a “stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herder” on screen.
Fisher was also very honest and open about her personal struggles, opening up about her struggle with depression and bipolar disorder to Diane Sawyer in 2000, nearly a decade before anyone was talking about mental health issues out in the open. “I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on. Better me than you,” she said during the interview.
Ultimately, Leia made Hollywood heroines cool, but Fisher kept that coolness alive for nearly 40 years. “Leia became a legend first, but Fisher burnished that legend, added to it, made Star Wars smarter, made Leia’s coolness somehow bigger than the movies around her,” Darren Franich wrote in a tribute to Fisher for Entertainment Weekly. “Leia was a princess and a general, a standard-bearer for women in the blockbuster era. The woman who played her was nobody’s slave, and with honesty and humor, she kept fighting.”
The loss of Fisher on Dec. 27 leaves a great disturbance in the Force. Below are several tweets that express the grief the world is feeling in the wake of her death.