Billie Lourd has written a heartfelt tribute to her late mom, Carrie Fisher — and her "stepmom" Princess Leia — in an op-ed for Time. And if you had any lingering concerns about the conclusion of the Skywalker Saga, this essay will help you rest easy: The Rise of Skywalker has been in really good hands.
Maybe those hands weren't always good, though. Early on in the essay, Lourd recalls avoiding the original Star Wars trilogy like the plague, writing, "My mom used to love to tell people that every time she tried to put it on, I would cover my ears and yell, 'It’s too loud, Mommy! Turn it off!' – or fearfully question, 'Is that lady in the TV you?'"
But then middle school happened, and Lourd's male classmates started developing their own crushes on the sci-fi princess we've all fallen for at one point or another. That's when Lourd's genuine study of her mom's most renowned character first began: She just had to know more about this lady — her mom — whom those young teenage boys were horny for. She'd wanted to hate it, she wrote, "But staring at the screen that day, I realized no one is, or ever will be, as hot or as cool as Princess F-cking Leia."
And that's when she really started to appreciate all the people who'd wait in lines to meet her mom, who'd tattoo Fisher's face onto their body, who'd name children in her honor. When she started to take pride in her mother's legacy, she recognized for the first time how closely tied her mom and her "stepmom" truly were.
Lourd kept her thoughts to herself, pretending she didn't want to follow in her mom's extremely cool footsteps — until one day, destiny came knocking. Fisher told her daughter that the Star Wars team wanted to see Lourd in their audition room. "I pretended it wasn’t a big deal – I even laughed at the concept – but inside I couldn’t think of anything that would make me happier," Lourd writes.
We know how that audition went; she got the role, appearing alongside General Leia Organa in 2015's The Force Awakens and 2017's The Last Jedi as Lieutenant Connix. "On our second movie together, I really tried to take a step back and appreciate what I was doing," Lourd reflects. "I couldn’t tell her because she’d think I was lame, but getting to watch her be Leia this time made me feel like the proud mom."
Around six months after filming wrapped, Lourd recalls her mom's excitement that the next Star Wars movie — the one set to close out the current trilogy — would be Leia's movie. Not long after, her mom unexpectedly died of a heart attack.
"Losing my mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever been through," Lourd writes. "I lost my best friend. My little lady in the TV. My Momby. And I inherited this weird, intimidating thing called her legacy. Suddenly I was in charge of what would come of her books, her movies and a bunch of other overwhelming things. I was now the keeper of Leia."
As such, she had a say in what would happen to General Leia in the film that was meant to be hers. And Lourd remembers the day director J.J. Abrams told her the news that would leave her "speechless": There was enough unused footage of Leia to still make her movie. "It was like she had left us a gift that would allow Leia’s story to be completed," she recalls — a sentiment similar to what Abrams has echoed, when he posited that Fisher offered divine consent for the unused footage to be repurposed.
As for her own return to the franchise, Lourd writes, "I knew it would be one of the most painful, difficult things I would ever do, but I said yes for her – for my mom. For Leia. For everyone Leia means so much to. For everyone Leia gives strength to. For my future kids, so someday they’ll have one more movie to watch that Mommy and Grandma were in together. So they can ask me about the lady – now ladies – in the TV and tell me to turn it down because it’s too loud."
Lourd doesn't think of Leia as her stepmom anymore. "Now she’s my guardian angel," she concludes. "And I’m her keeper."