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Syfy Wire's editors pay tribute to Carrie Fisher

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Dec 27, 2016

Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia in Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens and the upcoming Episode VIII, has passed away at the age of 60. Syfy Wire has plenty of love for the woman who brought Princess Leia to life. Our editors and writers pay tribute to Fisher, as well as to the iconic princess she portrayed. 

 

When I asked young actresses at NYCC this year who their favorite Star Wars character was, the answer wasn't Leia, it was Carrie Fisher. And I imagine they love her for the same reason I do: her fearless way of thinking in her mouth, consequences be damned. In a world of expectations, Carrie defied them constantly. She wasn't afraid to be a mess publicly because truth is always better than a convenient lie. If people want to love you, make them sure they know what they're getting into. That's how she lived, and that's what I learned from her. I'll never forget her. - Dan Roth

Carrie Fisher was one of my geek heroes—and not just for her portrayal of Princess Leia, which shaped my childhood. As a sufferer of bipolar disorder, as well as drug addiction, Fisher was an advocate for both mental health and sobriety, topics that are all too frequently shamed. But she also won my geeky heart as an unflinching humorist. Postcards from the Edge was a fictionalized take, but Wishful Drinking was a hard look at her life…and the ridiculousness of it all. Her writing and her appearances were hilariously raw and snarky as hell, and I loved her for every wisecrack at her own expense. And let's not forget her role as an uncredited script doctor. When I was young, I wanted to be Princess Leia. Now that I’m older, I would have loved to have known Carrie Fisher. It breaks my heart that her voice is now suddenly silenced.  - Carol Pinchefsky 

I still remember the first time I watched the original Star Wars trilogy as a kid, and though I was already a sci-fi fan, it pretty much cemented my love for all things geeky. Yes, I obviously wanted to be the swashbuckling hero like Han Solo, and wield a light saber like Luke. But Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia showed this 11-year-old kid there was really no difference in the roguish smuggler, the young Padawan, or the princess freedom fighter who knows how to handle a blaster. They're all heroes. Regardless of gender, or anything else. Fisher embodied one of the first strong, female heroines in modern science fiction, flipping tropes on their heads decades before it was popular. May the Force be with you, Carrie. And rest in peace. - Trent Moore

Seeing Star Wars as a child was revelatory in many ways, and one of those was certainly the effect of watching Carrie Fisher kick ass as Princess Leia Organa. If memory serves, she was the first truly impressive and empowered female figure I'd seen in a movie or TV series up to that point; although I was too young to realize it at the time, the whole notion of a woman's role in the kinds of stories I loved was probably upended right there, once and for all and for the better. Leia and Fisher remained beloved ever since, and while Fisher's personal troubles were well documented (especially and bravely by herself), it was always nice to see her pop up in a film, if only to let us know that she was still there. But her main legacy will always be Leia, and losing this cherished icon is just the final kick in the teeth from a year that has been merciless in terms of the pain inflicted on our culture. In many ways this is the hardest one of all, because of Ms. Fisher's vast generational reach. My daughter wanted to dress as Leia this year for Halloween, nearly 40 years after this delightful woman first embodied her onscreen. Her impact on pop culture, cinema, women and children will, fortunately, live on, but it's a cruel blow that she won't be here to enjoy it for a few more decades. Safe travels and a peaceful rest to our princess, our sister, our general, and may the Force be with her always. - Don Kaye

I'm at Disneyland as I write this, and I'm reminded of her everywhere walking through Tomorrowland. All of the attractions, merchandise and general love for her is present everywhere with man or woman, girl or boy. As Leia I saw a princess who was a stark contrast to the others I read about or seen. I saw up to that point. Shouldn't all princess be able to fire a blaster pistol or disguise themselves as a bounty hunter? She fired back at Han and Luke and commanded every scene she appeared in A New Hope and brought brains and beauty to the remainder of the original trilogy, and honestly, to any production she was a part of. We just wanted more like her and only in these two recent did we finally get our wish. I was an instant fan of Carrie's and will remain one for as long as the Force flows through me. - Ernie Estrella

From the moment I first watched Star Wars at the age of eleven, Princess Leia became my first official heroine. She was fierce, smart, incisive and daring. Later, as I came to learn more about Carrie Fisher, it wasn't a surprise to discover her wit and strength were just as impressive off-screen. As Fisher herself once said, "She’s become me, and I’ve become her." Perhaps that is why it's often so hard for me - and others - to completely separate the actress from the princess. They've both faced more than their fair share of trials and emerged triumphant. They both represented the power of standing up - and speaking up - for yourself. They both became champions for girls who desperately needed it - including me. Above all, they were survivors. While it definitely feels like words can't really express what Fisher meant to me when the grief is still this raw, all I keep coming back to is that I loved her - as so many of us did. And I truly believe she knew. - Carly Lane

She made me want to be a princess. I grew up watching the Star Wars saga on cable, when TBS would rerun the movies over and over during the late '80s, and I made up my mind early on that I wanted to be a princess like Leia. Leia's "princess-ness" was defined not by her relationship with a prince or by wearing sparkly dresses. She was a princess because she was in charge. She told other people what to do, and they did it. For the first time, I saw a princess who would don a disguise to rescue the man she loves. She wore a variety of outfits and Rebel uniforms and everyone still called her "your Highness" despite the fact that she rarely wore dresses. This was a revelation to young me; there's strength in femininity. Older, teen-aged me became enamored of Carrie Fisher the person after I discovered the movie Postcards from the Edge. She grew up in that bizarre world of Hollywood in the '70s. She struggled through addiction and mental illness and still came out the other side with such wonderful humor and wit and kindness. 

Leia made me want to be a princess, but Carrie made me realize that I could survive anything. She did it. I could too. Goodbye, Carrie. I love you. - Michelle Villanueva

In trying to put together my feelings about the life and legacy of Carrie Fisher, I came to a few realizations. At first, I didn’t think I had anything to contribute. I only came to see Star Wars for the first time about a decade ago, and by that point I had plenty of female role models. I adored Leia, her bravado, her take-no-prisoners attitude, and her absolute impatience for these idiots who thought they could “rescue” her, but I didn’t feel like I needed her. I had my heroes. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that those heroes never would have existed with Leia, and without what Fisher brought to that role. More than that, Fisher herself impacted my life in ways I didn’t realize, with her willingness to talk about mental health and her experiences as a woman in Hollywood. Perhaps most of all, she inspired women who in turn inspire me. I guess it just goes to show how people like Carrie Fisher can have an effect on the world that spreads even to those who don’t realize it’s happening. I don’t know what my life would have looked like without her, and I’m glad I’ll never have to know. - Tricia Ennis

Absorbing the impact of the loss of Carrie Fisher is like a Wampa blow to the gut. I was that 12-year-old adolescent that followed the imminent arrival of the original Star Wars in 1977 via sci-fi fanzines like Starlog, Rocket's Blast Comicollector (RBCC) and Cinefantastique and those first images of the young princess in her angelic-white robes were an indelible fixation for my pre-teen mind.  When the initial trailer dropped and that pulsing operatic score punctuated the scenes for George Lucas' sprawling space saga, accompanying shots of Luke Skywalker swinging across a chasm with the princess aboard the Death Star, I was transported.  Fisher imbued her character with a perfect blend of sexy resourcefulness and boundless spirit that built my respect for women and formed an example of what I might be searching for in a girlfriend someday.  I'm still looking! Someone who will swing across the dark gulfs of life and give me a kiss for luck. Corny? You bet.  Farewell, Carrie. - Jeff Spry

Carrie Fisher will forever be a cinematic icon. Princess Leia is the female hero in space that I remember didn't need saving. In addition, Carrie was a one of the main advocates for killing the stigma surrounding mental health sufferers. Only someone with a  big heart, and courage could tackle an issue that most shy away from. The world is losing a princess and she will be remembered and missed. May the Force be with you, Carrie Fisher. - Valerie Complex

Having seen Star Wars at a pretty young age, my fondest memory of the movie set in a galaxy far, far away wasn’t of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Obi-Wan Kenobi, R2-D2, C-3PO, Chewbacca or even Darth Vader; it was that of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in that awesome white dress and rocking those amazing buns (sadly, I couldn’t rock those buns myself). She was one of the first positive female role models I’d ever seen on screen (along with Wonder Woman) and what I learned from Carrie Fisher’s portrayal is that a woman (in her case a princess) didn’t have to be a damsel in distress waiting to be rescued — that a woman could take charge, be a strong leader and a badass to boot. This is the lasting impression she will leave with me. Thank you, Carrie Fisher. You will be missed.  - Nathalie Caron

Carrie Fisher was my first cinematic hero. Watching her save the day alongside Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in her white robe, blaster in hand and sass mouth set on stun, I was in love. As a kid, my reward for good grades was picking out Star Wars film trading cards, or action figures. I had Leia figures in many iterations. I can't count the hours of backyard, role-play fun she inspired as my cousin and I swapped playing Leia as we "saved" the above-ground pool from the Empire's attack.

As I got older, I was young girl shocked and surprised to see Carrie in other roles because she is Princess Leia forever, right? In particular, I remember her as Jim Belushi's spurned lover in The Blue Brothers. I was aghast for a minute about how raw and angry she was on screen but quickly (and admiringly) processed that she again was playing a woman not to be trifled with...ever. It was a through line in her acting career.

From there, it was appreciating her real life battles in Postcards from the Edge and the dark complications of her bi-polar issues. Yet even then, everything she expressed, or shared, about her real life was always delivered with the quickest wit and most candid terms. She laid bare her human frailties with humor and self-deprecation, showing us all that we can laugh even when life can be utterly tragic.

I cried when Carrie Fisher appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Our rebellion princess was a General and she looked like a woman who had seen much and lived to tell it all.  A warrior in life, and a warrior on the screen, it's hard to distinguish the bigger than life characters from the bigger than life woman. Luckily, she told us the truth of who she is on the page...so many wonderful pages that will serve many who will draw inspiration from her courage and humor, her ability to love and inspire forever. Rest, fair General. You inspired a generation of girls to become strong women because of the paths you forged. Thank you. - Tara Bennett

I know the ridiculous hair-by-Cinnabon garnered a lot of attention, but what first struck me about Carrie Fisher back when I was a little bitty nerd all of six years old, was her sass.

Princess Leia wasn’t some damsel waiting around to be rescued. The scene in the Death Star detention block in A New Hope has always been one of my favorites in the first movie. It was where our heroes all first come together. And who was it that took charge? The young princess from Alderaan. OK, maybe going into the trash compactor wasn’t the best exit strategy, but it worked. And in the thick of the laser fire, where Luke, Han and Chewy were out of ideas, it was Leia who took command. And it was Fisher who was responsible for that. Sure, she had a script to work off, but by now we all know George Lucas isn’t exactly an actor’s director.  That attitude was all Fisher, who was then a raw 19 year-old actress.

In life as onscreen, Fisher gave as good as she got, and she had better aim than a stormtrooper with her zingers. If you’ve never read or seen any of her many interviews, do yourself a favor and pop down that Google rabbit hole. It’s a real treat.  

Years later, when I became a dad, I became acutely aware of just how badly written so many female characters in pop culture are. As I was creating my list of movies, TV shows and books to introduce my daughter (pictured above - Ed.) to, Star Wars was naturally at the top of the list. Why? Because I knew Princess Leia was the kind of assertive, strong-willed fictional character my little girls could admire and look up to. But I also learned that the woman who brought that character to life, the lady who survived a dysfunctional childhood, drug abuse, mental illness and many other bouts of adversity to become a beacon of light for many groups of people, is another person both my daughters can look up to. Because she is proof that no matter what life throws at you, you can escape the dark side, and find your way back to the light. That’s what Carrie Fisher means, and will always mean to me.

P.S. my oldest daughter’s middle name is Leia. - Mike Avila

I’ve written about why Princess Leia was (still is) my hero. But Carrie Fisher was more than that. While Leia left a mark on me from the minute she first rolled her eyes in defiance, Carrie Fisher’s candidness, self-depricating humor, and sardonic wit helped me feel more comfortable in my own skin, more confident in my own writing, and more at peace with the ugly moments in my own life. She was messy, raw, funny, talented, unflitered, smart, and opinionated and never apologized for any of it. She was a princess, a warrior, a comedian, and survivor. She was fresh out of f*cks. She was my spirit animal. - Cher Martinetti

I was eight years old in 1977 and the first time I saw Star Wars, Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia was my first true introduction to a princess who was strong, sassy, and able to take care of herself. I have no doubt that she's the reason I love sci-fi/fantasy with such ferocity. But I learned to love her even more as I grew older. Her humor, her tenacity, her openness about her struggles and her unflinching truth about it all touched so many lives and will do so for decades. She was my Princess and my hero – and I would pay good money to see some of the conversations she'll have in the afterlife. - Geek Girl Diva

I first saw Carrie, like many of her fans, in Star Wars. The moment she mouthed off to one of the guys, I was sold. What I had mostly seen in movies and television up to that point were quiet women waiting to be saved by the big, strong man. And that wasn’t how I grew up. Growing up with a single mother, we’d never been told to wait around for a guy to do—well, anything. So Princess Leia was the first princess I found relatable. And as I learned more about Carrie, I only grew to love her more. She didn’t take crap from anyone and was heartbreakingly honest about her struggles. Today there’s a new hole in my heart. Thank you for everything, Carrie. - Heather Mason

Growing up in Idaho meant I got to spend a lot of time outdoors running wild.  My parents never looked at my sister and I as "girls" but always as "kids," which meant toys and games were never gender specific. I remember going to school and seeing other girls in my class playing with dolls. I preferred my dinosaurs. I also remember them telling me Star Wars was a boys movie, which confused me because Princess Leia was awesome.  Here was a girl who looked like a girl (that long white dress...dreamy) but who fought just as hard as every guy she stood next to.  

Then, as I grew up and learned more about the world around me, I came to respect Carrie Fisher for more than just her acting roles. Her semi-autobiographical book Postcards from the Edge was eye opening, but it was her work behind the scenes as a writer on feature films like Hook, The Wedding Singer and Sister Act that I respected the most.  While Carrie could have cashed in on her fame and demanded recognition for these works, she did them quietly, choosing to remain uncredited.

The one place she did use her fame to her advantage was as an outspoken voice for those who deal with bipolar.  Her fearless approach to telling it like it is as a mental health advocate was raw, emotional and brave. Sure, we will all remember Carrie as Leia in her bronze bikini and cinnamon bun hairstyle, but it was the quiet, deeply troubled writer who used her passion to help bring others stories to life and her desire to bring support to mental health issues that I will always respect the most. - Tye Lombardi

There was always something more to Carrie Fisher. The first time I saw Star Wars, I had the same crush on her everyone else did, but the second time I saw it there was more. There was this firecracker of a woman who bossed Han and Luke around and didn't even flinch when staring down Darth Vader, the Baddest Dude in the Galaxy. She was a princess then, but our general was already there, ready to attack. She was a talented actress, but then there was more. By The Empire Strikes Back she was punching up her own dialogue, and then the writer in her took over, delivering book after book and script after script with honesty and wit. She was a charming celebrity, but then there was more. She endured her own struggles with mental illness and addiction, then wrote about them, talked about them, and laughed about them, rubbing the stigma away and helping countless others who faced the same struggle. Every time you thought she couldn't get any wiser, any funnier, any more radiant...there was more. Carrie Fisher always felt bigger than life, and now she really is. I know that because I will never stop talking about how much she meant to me. Neither, I suspect, will you. - Matthew Jackson