Many of my friends and family won’t understand why I am grieving for somebody I never met, but I’m sure you’ll agree that our heroes come in different shapes and sizes.
To me Carrie as Princess Leia was a shock to the system. I was about 5 years old. She was incredibly gorgeous, but also courageous, forthright and intelligent. She ran the show!
“Look, I don’t know who you are or where you came from, but from now on, you do as I tell you. OK?”
“Will someone get this big walking carpet out of my way”.
Wow. I was in love.
She helped boys like me understand that women deserved positions of authority as much as, if not more than many men. Goodness knows what an inspiration she must have been to little girls! (Insert shot from 2014 of my then 6 year old daughter dressed as a stormtrooper but also Princess Leia…In disguise…On a special mission).
Later as a teenager, Star Wars returned to my life and again and I saw Carrie in a different light. I hunted for every film Mark, Carrie and Harrison starred in on VHS. I saw Carrie in The Blues Brothers, Under the Rainbow, When Harry Met Sally etc… All the time wondering if women as sharp, sexy and clever as her really existed. (I found out later when I met my wife). Always enjoying her on screen and off screen persona. Interviews with Ruby Wax, Clive James and Sarah Greene, proved that she was just as spunky, if not more so than her on screen persona.
In the late nineties I also became aware that she was a script doctor on several big movies. Her dislike of Lucas’s clunky dialogue clearly gave her the training she needed to become a master of writing lines for her friends movies. I later read two of her books and became enamoured with her once again.
My daughters now aged 11, 8 and 2 all know who Princess Leia is. The feisty one in the white dress. The one that killed Jabba the Hutt for enslaving her. The toy with “two little bumps on side of her hair.” – That’s the two year old.
Just before Christmas (me now into my 40’s… and 35 years into a Star Wars obsession) I was reading Carrie’s inner most thoughts about her time on Star Wars, aged 19. Always funny, always self deprecating. Always able to cut through it all yet still unable to fully believe how great she really was.
Carrie’s inherent courageousness showed itself again in c2010 when she appeared in a documentary about bipolar disorder. A condition from which she suffered terribly. She never hid her problems. Her honesty is undoubtedly one for the reasons that mental health continues to be a subject more readily discussed.
I also loved her attitude in her late 50’s, advising the new female protagonist of the Star Wars universe, Daisy Ridley, to “not go through the crew like a wild fire”. Hilarious as always. “If my life wasn’t funny, then it would just be true, and that’s unacceptable”.
On hearing the news that she’d had a heart attack and after seeing the outpouring of love from fans around world, I assumed she’d recover and we’d get to hear her acerbic voice cut through it all again. Regaling us with her addictions to Coca Cola and certain medications. But also to finally give her the chance to see how much we all loved her.
That day of course never came and all we have are our memories. Good memories. Thanks Carrie. May the Force be with you, always. X
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