As news of Carrie Fisher’s death at age 60 spreads across the world and the internet, those eager to honor the late actress, writer, and advocate have emerged at a steady clip, among them the many, many Hollywood luminaries whom Fisher knew, worked with, or just inspired. Of those memorials, few are as noteworthy as those from her Star Wars compatriots, co-stars Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford and director/creator George Lucas.
Considering both Ford and Lucas are notoriously reticent, it’s perhaps unsurprising that their official statements on Fisher’s death are straightforward and unencumbered by flowery platitudes. Lucas’s, in particular, has an almost businesslike tone:
George Lucas, in a statement, praises Carrie Fisher as “our great and powerful princess - feisty, wise and full of hope." pic.twitter.com/GRMJzrGZ58— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) December 27, 2016
The brevity of Lucas’s statement is understandable, given the combined factors of the untimely nature of Fisher’s death, Lucas’s stoic personality, and the simple fact that not everyone on Earth likes to grieve profusely and publicly. But for those familiar with the occasionally barbed relationship between Fisher and the Star Wars mastermind — who changed Fisher’s life in many ways, good and bad alike — it’s hard to read this relatively terse response to Fisher’s passing and not recall all the times over the years that Fisher spoke ambivalently about the film franchise that made her famous.
Which isn’t to say Fisher flat-out resented Star Wars or Lucas; she was famously one of the few to think the 1977 film would be a hit prior to its release, returned to the series for 2015’s The Force Awakens, and will presumably appear in 2017’s Episode VIII, on which she completed filming earlier this year. But the fame that accompanied her role as General (née Princess) Leia came with a galaxy of baggage, much of which she spoke frankly about in interviews and her own writing over the years. Through it all, though, there was the sense that Fisher appreciated the franchise and Lucas deep down, even while acknowledging their respective flaws.
There’s perhaps no better encapsulation of Fisher’s prickly but loving relationship with the man and movies that made her famous than this 2005 clip of Fisher at the American Film Institute’s ceremony presenting Lucas with a lifetime achievement award. Fisher is characteristically brash and brassy when addressing the night’s honoree, beginning her speech — it’s more of a roast, really — with, “Hi, I’m Mrs. Han Solo, and I’m an alcoholic. I’m an alcoholic because George Lucas ruined my life ... and I mean that in the nicest possible way.”
A sharp comedian through and through, Fisher lobs one zinger after another — many of which would find their way into her one-woman show, Wishful Drinking, which she was developing at the time — at Lucas and an appreciative audience who nonetheless looks a little unsure of how to respond to Fisher saying things like, “George is a sadist, but like any abused child wearing a metal bikini chained to a giant slug about to die, I keep coming back for more.” Lucas laughs, though, as he obviously learned to do over years spent as the target of Fisher’s combined love and ire.