Billie Lourd has continued to keep her late mother Carrie Fisher’s legacy alive, posting a moving musical tribute on Fisher’s birthday and speaking about her often in interviews and on social media. Now Lourd is sharing a personal story about her introduction to the Star Wars universe, as well as the moment Fisher gave her daughter the encouragement she needed to pursue acting.
In a new essay that was published by Time, Lourd calls herself the ‘keeper of Princess Leia,’ admitting that her earliest years were spent avoiding the franchise that made her mother famous, calling the films “too loud” and saying she just wanted her mother, not the figurative stepmother of Princess Leia. It wasn’t until middle school when male classmates would tell Lourd that they fantasized about Fisher that she decided to investigate. “My mom? The lady who wore glitter makeup like it was lotion and didn’t wear a bra to support her much-support-needed DD/F’s? They couldn’t be talking about her,” writes Lourd.
When Lourd finally did screen the original Star Wars trilogy, she says that she instantly understood the fandom surrounding the movies and specifically her mother. “…Staring at the screen that day, I realized no one is, or ever will be, as hot or as cool as Princess F-cking Leia.” Lourd says that later that same year, she joined her mother at Comic-Con for the first time and finally understood the impact the films had on people’s lives. “Watching the amount of joy it brought to people when she hugged them or threw glitter in their faces was incredible to witness,” writes Lourd. “People waited in line for hours just to meet her. People had tattoos of her. People named their children after her. People had stories of how Leia saved their lives. It was a side of my mom I had never seen before. And it was magical.”
Lourd describes that day as a turning point in her view of her mother’s famous character, realizing the power of Princess Leia. “I realized then that Leia is more than just a character. She’s a feeling. She is strength. She is grace. She is wit. She is femininity at its finest. She knows what she wants, and she gets it. She doesn’t need anyone to defend her, because she defends herself,” writes Lourd. “And no one could have played her like my mother. Princess Leia is Carrie Fisher. Carrie Fisher is Princess Leia. The two go hand in hand.”
The 27-year-old actor reveals that she was heavily discouraged by both her mother and father Bryan Lourd, a talent agent, from becoming an actor. Lourd says that she attended college with the intention of becoming a music festival planner, but after being offered a part in Star Wars: The Force Awakens by director J.J. Abrams, Lourd realized that being on set was where she felt most comfortable. After spending the day in character wearing her mother’s iconic Leia-buns hairstyle, Lourd says her mother saw her passion and gave her the reassurance she needed to pursue acting. “My mom was telling me I should act–my mom? The lady who spent my entire life convincing me acting was the last thing I should do? It couldn’t be true,” writes Lourd. “But it was. I haven’t had many moments like this in my life–those aha moments everyone talks about. This was my first real one. My mom wanted me to be an actress. That was when I realized I had to give it a shot.”
In the touching and deeply personal essay, Lourd remembers her final conversations with her mother, who she says was excited to finally have a movie that was going to be centred around Leia. Fisher tragically died on December 27, 2016, one year before the release of what would have been her final Star Wars film. In addition to dealing with her own grief, Lourd says she was also left with the monumental task of overseeing her mother’s legacy. “Suddenly I was in charge of what would come of her books, her movies and a bunch of other overwhelming things. I was now the keeper of Leia.”
Lourd talks about the conversation she had with Abrams when he approached her with the idea of using old footage of Fisher to craft an appearance in the next Star Wars film, as well as the difficult decision of agreeing to appear in the film herself. Lourd gave many reasons for her decision to say yes to the film, but most importantly, she was inspired to honour her family and the family that Leia created. “For everyone Leia gives strength to. For my future kids, so someday they’ll have one more movie to watch that Mommy and Grandma were in together. So they can ask me about the lady–now ladies–in the TV and tell me to turn it down because it’s too loud.”