Carrie Fisher says that George Lucas stole her identity. No, he didn't take her wallet and run up $200 on her credit card at GameStop. According to Fisher, he stole her identity in a completely different way: by selling her likeness on everything from Star Wars toothpaste to Princess Leia socks ... and not paying her for it.
In an essay she wrote for The Daily Beast, Fisher explains that she now realizes she made a mistake when she signed her contract for Star Wars:
The mistake was I signed away my likeness for free. In those days, there was no such thing as a "likeness," which is a funny thing to say coming from the family that I came from. There was no merchandising tied to movies. No one could have known the extent of the franchise. Not that I don't think I'm cute or anything, but when I looked in the mirror, I didn't think I was signing away anything of value.
Yet the decision comes back to haunt her, and sometimes in the unlikeliest of places.
I was shopping at Williams-Sonoma, and they're selling little sticks of Princess Leia that you put in your cupcake. Who wouldn't need those? I paid for it. How much money could I have made from all this stuff? I don't want to know. It's too upsetting. Yet funny.
Harrison Ford, Fisher said, had the same deal. We haven't managed to locate any hard facts on the percentage they earned, but Internet rumor says they earned 0.25 percent of the net theatrical revenues. Of course, this doesn't include royalties for former video/DVD/Blu-ray sales, television airings and, of course, merchandise.
Fisher wrote, "I've teased George Lucas about this over the years, but he's never been apologetic."
In the 2004 documentary, Empire of Dreams, Fisher famously said, "We signed away our likeness, so when I look in the mirror, I have to pay George a couple of bucks."
That's funny. At least Fisher puts her humor to good use in her second career as a writer and script doctor.
And the money doesn't hurt, either.