Whatever your level of excitement about the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it’s undoubtedly tinged with a bittersweet sadness. Since the passing of Carrie Fisher in December 2016, fans and creatives alike have looked to the next installment of the Star Wars franchise as something of a swan song for the late actress, writer, and real-life heroine. (Fisher completed filming her role last summer.) When the cast and crew came together for a Vanity Fair cover story and photoshoot, much of the time was spent both reminiscing about Fisher’s impact on the series as well as what they managed to take away from inhabiting the orbit of her brilliance.
Fisher frequently spoke about growing up as the child of celebrities, but it was her role in Star Wars that catapulted her into the spotlight at the young age of 19. With that in mind, it’s understandable that one of the biggest lessons she imparted upon the new generation of actors was how best to cope with sudden stardom. One of the latest and greatest female characters in the Star Wars universe, Daisy Ridley revealed that Fisher passed on important advice when she started to feel overwhelmed by the weight of responsibility in the midst of filming The Last Jedi. “Carrie lived her life the way she wanted to, never apologizing for anything, which is something I’m still learning. … ‘Embarrassed’ is the wrong word, but there were times through it all when I felt like I was … shrinking. And she told me never to shrink away from it – that it should be enjoyed.”
Ridley wasn’t the only one who benefited from Fisher’s nuggets of wisdom: John Boyega recounted that when the backlash against his playing a black stormtrooper began to circulate on the Internet after the first trailer dropped for The Force Awakens, Fisher was the one who instructed him on how best to acknowledge the haters: “I remember-and forgive me, I’m going to drop the f-bomb, but that’s just Carrie-she said, ‘Ah, boohoo, who f*ckin’ cares? You just do you. … Words like that give you strength. I bore witness in a million ways to her sharing her wisdom with Daisy too.”
Although Lucasfilm and the team behind the as-of-yet-untitled Episode IX are still trying to figure out how exactly to conclude Leia’s story in the wake of Fisher’s unexpected passing, she’s said to “[log] significantly more screen time” in The Last Jedi than she did in The Force Awakens. No doubt in part due to one of her shared scenes with Oscar Isaac, who hinted at a surprisingly dramatic moment between General Leia and Poe Dameron that fans can look forward to. “We did this scene where Carrie has to slap me. … I think we did 27 takes in all, and Carrie leaned into it every time, man. She loved hitting me. Rian found such a wonderful way of working with her, and I think she really relished it.”
When the time came for Fisher’s IRL co-star and on-screen twin Mark Hamill to reflect on Fisher’s death, it was clear the actor was still having difficulty coming to terms with the loss, or even thinking of her in past-tense; although, he did share many of the familiar anecdotes he had passed on to fans during his solo tribute to Fisher at this year’s Star Wars Celebration. They briefly considered pursuing a romance on the set of Episode IV before deciding they were better off as friends, and in the 40 years since they maintained a relationship that certainly embodied the type between brother and sister, griping and teasing each other along the way.
As age caught up with them, Hamill admitted that occasionally the conversations would turn to more dismal topics. “We got to talking about one of our favorite scenes in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which is when Tom and Huck go to their own funeral, and they’re up in the balcony, hearing their own eulogies. … So then I said, ‘Look, if I go first, just promise me you’ll heckle my funeral.’ And she went, ‘Absolutely, if you’ll do the same for me.’” (During his tribute to Fisher, Hamill confessed at Celebration that it was one promise he’d be unable to keep.)
Images: Vanity Fair