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It wasn’t until Billie Lourd was in middle school that she finally took a seat in front of the television, unprompted, to watch a little film called Star Wars.
While her mother, the late Carrie Fisher, had been trying for years to get her to check out George Lucas’s sci-fi classic as a way to earn cool points thanks to her starring role as Princess Leia, Lourd, now 30, would typically “roll my eyes and yell, ‘It’s too loud.'” But when boys her age confessed how much they fantasized about Fisher, she decided to press play.
“I went home to investigate who this person was they were talking about. I finally watched the movie I had forever considered too loud, and finally figured out what all the fuss was about with the lady in the TV,” Lourd relayed from the podium on Thursday during Fisher’s posthumous Walk of Fame ceremony. “I wanted to hate it so I could tell her how lame she was. Like any kid, I didn’t want my mom to be hot or cool. She was my mom. But that day, staring at the screen, I realized no one is or will ever be as hot or as cool as Princess Leia.”
Later that same year, Lourd accompanied her mother to Comic-Con. There she learned that Fisher was also beloved.
“People of all ages from all over the world were dressed up like my mom, the lady who sang me to sleep at night and held me when I was scared. Watching the amount of joy it brought to people when she hugged them or threw glitter at them — sorry about that — was incredible to witness. People waited in line for hours just to meet her. People had tattoos of her, people named their children after her. People had stories of how she saved their lives. It was a side of my mom I had never seen before, and it was magical,” recalled Lourd. “I realized then that Leia is more than just a character. She is a feeling. She is strength. She is grace. She is wit. She is femininity at its finest. She knows what she wants and she gets it. She doesn’t need anyone to rescue her because she rescues herself and even rescues the rescuers. And no one could have played her like my mother.”
The ceremony, which kicked off shortly after 11:30 a.m. near the El Capitan Theatre on the corner of Hollywood and Highland, saw Lourd accept Fisher’s honor as she received the 2,754th star on the famed Walk of Fame. Per Hollywood Chamber of Commerce vp media relations Ana Martinez, Fisher’s star “is just a few feet away” from the one belonging to Star Wars co-star Mark Hamill (who was in attendance) and across the street from mother Debbie Reynolds’ star.
Fisher, daughter of legendary performer Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher, might be best known for playing Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy, but she went on to have a long and varied showbiz career. Fisher’s best-selling novel Postcards From the Edge was adapted into a feature film, for which she penned the screenplay. Her other books include Delusions of Grandma, Surrender the Pink, The Best Awful, Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic. She took the one-woman show Wishful Drinking to Broadway and later to HBO, earning an Emmy nomination in the process. Aside from the Star Wars franchise, Fisher appeared in Shampoo, When Harry Met Sally, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Blues Brothers, Laverne & Shirley, Sex and the City and 30 Rock.
Fisher passed away on Dec. 27, 2016, with Reynolds following a day later, on Dec. 28. Lourd noted her mother’s death and said that in the years since, her love of Star Wars has deepened. The actress also fought back tears as she talked about her passing the fandom down to her two young children.
“My mom died six and a half years ago, and ever since I have fallen deeply in love with Leia and the entire Star Wars universe. I’ve gone from little girl unwilling to even watch Star Wars, to obsessive Star Wars fan, who, if you haven’t noticed, I’m literally wearing a Princess Lea dress,” said Lourd, outfitted in a shimmering, satin dress by Rodarte featured Leia’s face and trademark buns. “I teared up when I watched The Mandalorian. I have a lightsaber lamp in my living room, X-wing tiles in my bathroom, and I buy every single piece of Leia merch I leia my eyes on. I have now passed the torch — or in this case, lightsaber — on to my two children, Kingston and Jackson. I feel so lucky that even though they won’t get to meet my mom, they will get to know a piece of her through Leia. I will get to tell them that the little lady in the TV is my momby, their grandmomby.”
Beyond the woman seen onscreen, Lourd said “one of the things I’m most proud of” is how her mother inspired people the world over to speak more openly about their struggles thanks to Fisher’s transparency on her own struggles with drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness. “One of my favorite quotes of hers is, ‘Take your broken heart and make it into art.’ And she did just that. And I hope to pass that torch — or in this case, lightsaber — of wisdom on to the next generation of fans. Take your broken heart and make it into art.”
Hamill kicked off the ceremony, taking over the podium from host and radio legend Ellen K., flanked by droids C-3PO and R2-D2, along with a Stormtrooper. After declaring today, May the Fourth, as Carrie Frances Fisher Day, Hamill detailed their first dinner meeting, which happened after they had been shooting Star Wars for over a month. “Every expectation I had was just obliterated,” Hamill explained, describing her as “so charming, so funny, so adorable, so wise beyond her years.” He was also taken aback by how “brutally frank” she could be, telling stories about her family that he figured most people would only tell close friends.
Hamill then produced a notebook that had text he wrote in the wake of her passing that he felt was just as relevant today. “She played a crucial role in my professional and personal lives and both would’ve been far emptier without her,” he continued. “Was she a handful? Was she high maintenance? No doubt. But everything would have been so much drabber and far less interesting if she hadn’t been the friend that she was. I’m grateful for the laughter, the wisdom, the kindness and even the bratty self-indulgent crap that my bratty space twin drove me crazy with through the years. Thank you, Carrie. I love you.”
The day was not without a bit of drama. Earlier this week, Fisher’s brother, Todd Fisher, and half-sisters, Joely and Tricia Leigh, shared statements acknowledging hurt at not being invited to Thursday’s event. “For some bizarre, misguided reason our niece has chosen not to include us in this epic moment in our sister’s career. This is something Carrie would have definitely wanted her siblings to be present for,” read an Instagram post shared by the sisters. “The fact that her only brother and two sisters were intentionally and deliberately excluded is deeply shocking.”
On Wednesday, Lourd shared a statement with THR defending the personal decision to keep the ceremony intimate. “Days after my mom died, her brother and her sister chose to process their grief publicly and capitalize on my mother’s death, by doing multiple interviews and selling individual books for a lot of money, with my mom and my grandmother’s deaths as the subject. I found out they had done this through the press. They never consulted me or considered how this would affect our relationship,” reads Lourd’s statement. “Though I recognize they have every right to do whatever they choose, their actions were very hurtful to me at the most difficult time in my life. I chose to and still choose to deal with her loss in a much different way.”
Back to the ceremony, Lourd noted how her mother used to say that “you weren’t actually famous until you become a Pez dispenser.” But Lourd believes that having a star on the Walk of Fame is the proof that someone has made it. Now, Fisher has both. “My mom is a double-whammy — a Pez dispenser and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Now, Mama, you’ve made it.”
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