The women of The Last Jedi remember Carrie Fisher

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Dec 4, 2017, 11:15 AM EST

At Sunday's (December 3) worldwide press conference for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, held at a secret location in Los Angeles, the women of the film's cast -- Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), Laura Dern (Vice Admiral Holdo), Daisy Ridley (Rey), and Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico) -- were asked to say a few words each on the impact that both Carrie Fisher and the pioneering role she played in the Star Wars saga, General Leia Organa, had on them as both children and adult women.

Fisher, who passed away nearly a year ago (December 27, 2016) after completing her work on The Last Jedi for director Rian Johnson, was not just an icon for generations of girls and women as the powerful and defiant Leia but an inspiration in real life as someone who lived her life honestly, candidly, and without constraints, something that all four women on the stage today spoke about.

"(Leia) was very significant because I was first shown A New Hope when I was 6, and I remember thinking: 'Wow, that character is really different,'" said Christie. "I watched TV and film obsessively from such a young age, but it stayed with me throughout my formative years. She's really interesting. She's really smart. She's really funny. She's courageous. She's bold. She doesn't care what people think, and she isn't prepared to be told what to do. And she doesn't look the same as a sort of homogenized presentation of a woman that we had been used to seeing."

The Game of Thrones star continued, "That was really instrumental to me as someone that didn't feel like they fitted that homogenized view of what a woman was supposed to be. That there was inspiration there. That you could be an individual and celebrate yourself and be successful without giving yourself over, without necessarily making some sort of terrible, huge compromise. So it was a big inspiration for me."

Dern, who makes her debut in the Star Wars franchise with The Last Jedi, said she felt the same way as Christie when she first watched Leia on the screen as a young girl, adding that her respect for the character carried over to Fisher herself: "What moved me the most about the icon she gave us, but also what she gave us individually and personally, was to be who she was so directly, and to be without shame ... (it was) a privilege to watch how Rian has so beautifully captured all of that and her grace in this amazing, beautiful, pure performance."

Ridley, who has said elsewhere how emotional the shoot for The Last Jedi was, took a slightly different tack, focusing instead on Fisher's other legacy, her daughter Billie Lourd. "Carrie's daughter, Billie, has, I think, all of those qualities. She's smart and funny and shameless and wonderful. ... I think Carrie bringing up a daughter who has all of those qualities and then some in this world, if that's what she did just being herself, I think it speaks volumes to what she did as her in the spotlight and also her as Leia."

"Something about Carrie that I really look up to is, and something I didn't realize until recently, was just how much courage it takes to truly be yourself when you're on a public platform or when possibly a lot of people will be looking at you," said Tran in a comment that served nicely to sum up the others. "She was so unapologetic and so openly herself, and that is something that I am really trying to do, and it's hard. Just like Daisy said, like Laura said, like Gwendoline said, I think that she will always be an icon as Leia, but also as Carrie. I am so fortunate to have met her, and I think that she will really live on forever."

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is out in theaters on December 15, and something tells us that Carrie Fisher wlll be there in spirit in a big way.