Carrie FIsher, beloved to millions for her role as the leading female presence in the Star Wars cinematic universe, passed away Tuesday, suffering from complications from a cardiac episode that she suffered on Dec. 23. She was 60 years old.
The daughter of screen legend Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher, she began her film career with 1975’s Shampoo before catching a huge break by landing the casting for a little 1977 film called Star Wars: A New Hope. As the fiery, strong-willed Princess Leia, Fisher was an inspiration to millions of young girls and a feminist icon; a prime example of the strong female characters so rare in action-adventure and science fiction cinema.
Fischer had been in the public spotlight with regularity in recent months, first because of her appearance in 2015’s massively successful The Force Awakens and then due to her recent touring in support of her autobiography, The Princess Diarist. She will also presumably appear in 2017’s Star Wars Episode VIII, as the Rian Johnson-helmed film has wrapped shooting. One wonders whether Fisher’s part may have to be re-edited or scrapped, however, if she was originally meant to play a significant role in Episode 8 and then Episode 9. Her passing can’t help but mirror that of Harrison Ford’s character, Han Solo, in The Force Awakens.
Fisher of course played many other roles, from her classic turn as a vengeful lover in John Landis’ The Blues Brothers to appearances in off-the-wall cult films like Joe Dante’s The Burbs. Her one-woman show, Wishful Drinking, was also adapted into a successful memoir.
In the years after her initial Star Wars fame, Fisher struggled with alcoholism and bipolar disorder, both of which she has since spoken about openly. She was a valuable advocate for mental health awareness and treatment, and one we wish could have remained in the limelight for many more years.