Carrie Fisher's legacy lives on in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the upcoming eighth official film in the Skywalker saga. The actor, who died in December at the age of 60 following a heart attack, will be remembered for her insanely sharp wit and tenacious spirit, the same tenacity and strength she showed her younger Star Wars costars Daisy Ridley and John Boyega.
For its latest cover story, Vanity Fair caught up with the cast and crew of The Last Jedi for an exclusive glimpse into the anticipated film. But it was also clear that Fisher's absence weighed heavily on everyone, from the cast to director Rian Johnson, who formed a creative bond with Fisher while working on the film. Ridley and Boyega both shared stories of how Fisher helped them deal with the pressure of shouldering the new Star Wars trilogy — an experience she endured 40 years before.
"Carrie lived her life the way she wanted to, never apologizing for anything, which is something I'm still learning," Ridley told Vanity Fair. "'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."
Boyega, whose casting in The Force Awakens drew ire from racists and online trolls, recalled how in the wake of the reactions to the first trailer, Fisher gave him some very special advice: "You just do you."
"Words like that give you strength," he said. "I bore witness in a million ways to her sharing her wisdom with Daisy too."
Fisher completed her part in The Last Jedi late last summer, and according to Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy she was looking forward to coming back for Colin Trevorrow's Episode IX. "The minute she finished, she grabbed me and said, 'I'd better be at the forefront of IX!' Because Harrison was front and center on VII, and Mark is front and center on VIII. She thought IX would be her movie. And it would have been."
However, General Leia Organa does get significantly more screen time in The Last Jedi than she did in J.J. Abrams's Episode VII — an honor she gets to share with her daughter, Billie Lourd, who reprises her role as a young lieutenant in the Resistance. While specific intel on The Last Jedi is being kept under lock and key, Oscar Isaac (Poe) did tell VF about one memorable scene in particular.
"We did this scene where Carrie has to slap me," he said. "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."