A Date with “Star Wars” Princess Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher shares “Star Wars” memories with the audience at Star Wars Celebration VI in Orlando, FL.

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.

Carrie Fisher at Star Wars Celebration VI. Credit: Deborah J Bell

Soon after taking the stage at the convention, 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.”

Carrie Fisher at Star Wars Celebration VI. Credit: Deborah J Bell

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.

“Star Wars” stars, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher on a promotion tour for the film in 1977.

“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.”

Fans line up outside the Vogue Theatre on Theatre Row for the first screening of “Star Wars” on June 24, 1977. Credit: Glenn Baglo

“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.

Fisher points to a shot filmed the morning after an all-night party with the Rolling Stones. “Think about it, how many other shots of us are there where we are giggling our asses off?” Credit: Deborah J Bell

“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.”

Publicity still from the notoriously awful “Star Wars Holiday Special.” Credit: 20th Century Fox/CBS

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.

Publicity still of Carrie Fisher wearing her gold bikini costume from 1983’s “Return of the Jedi.” Credit: Lucasfilm

“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?”

Carrie Fisher donned a different gold bikini for this sketch on “Saturday Night Live” on Nov. 18, 1978. Credit: NBC

Fisher admitted that “The Empire Strikes Back was by far her favorite 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.

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News station issues apology for ill-conceived Star Wars CVI slideshow

A local news website producer from WPLG Local 10 Miami issued a formal apology on Friday for the news station’s publication of an ill-conceived and poorly-received online slideshow about Star Wars Celebration VI convention fans.

The unsigned public apology on the website states, in part:

“The slideshow was by no means an attempt to belittle or embarrass anyone. The intent was for it to be a fun and lighthearted look inside my experience at the Star Wars Celebration VI and the people who devote a great deal of their lives to the films we all love. Obviously, I missed the mark.

I, along with my co-workers heard from thousands of Star Wars fans, some from as far away as Ireland and Australia. They lit up our phones, filled our Facebook page and inboxes. We were called cyber bullies. Most offended were those affiliated with the 501st, an organization that donates countless hours and raises millions of dollars for charity. 

I meant no harm, neither did the website. It was a weak attempt to be funny. It fell flat and offended far too many people. Really, I am sorry, and all those who work for local10.com are sorry too. And to the members of the 501st, we’ll be sure to look for opportunities to showcase the good deeds you are doing in our community and communities all over the world.”

Albin Johnson

Albin Johnson, founder of the 501st Legion costuming group, responded by thanking the station for their apology in the post’s online comments section, and added, “I am glad to speak to you as a fellow fan and am encouraged that the media can be sensitive to feelings.”

Johnson continued, “The Legion has done good, as has the Rebel Legion, Mando Mercs, R2 Builders, FanForce, and other Star Wars costuming groups … We hope our work will win more people to the ‘light side’. We thank you for being a part of the experience with us and we earnestly hope we can all have fun, do some good, and be kids all over again – together.”

The 501st Legion itself received a personal apology from David Boylan, VP and General Manager of WPLG Miami, which was posted on the Legion’s website.

Ashley Eckstein

Ashley Eckstein, the actress who voices Ahsoka Tano in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” had described her reaction to the offending slideshow in a post on her website, “I am shocked that a post as disgraceful as this would be approved, allowed and posted to a professional website. This is the EPITOME of bullying…”

Eckstein, who is an honorary member of the 501st Legion, later responded publicly to the removal of the slideshow, “Wow, we work quick! Everything appears to have been taken down on Local10.com and even their statement on Facebook. Everyone came together and I want to reiterate that I have never been so proud to be a part of such a wonderful Universe of people.”

“We cannot control the actions of others but we can control what happens in our own community. The future generations of Star Wars fans will benefit from the positive, uplifting, safe and encouraging environment that everyone is demanding. Thank you for speaking up, we are making a difference.”

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