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While all Star Wars (male) fans only remember Carrie Fisher in her sex-slave golden bikini, the late actress had a feminist conception of her role way ahead of her time.
1. As early as 1983, in an interview with Rolling Stones about the freshly-released “Return of the Jedi,” Fisher already had the sense that her character had been written from a (male) fan-pleasing standpoint: Leia needed to be softened and sexualized for the final sequel, because too many viewed her as a “space bitch.”
“She has no friends, no family; her planet was blown up in seconds—along with her hairdresser—so all she has is a cause. From the first film, she was just a soldier, frontline and center. The only way they knew to make the character strong was to make her angry.”
“In ‘Return of the Jedi,’ she gets to be more feminine, more supportive, more affectionate. But let’s not forget that these movies are basically boys’ fantasies. So the other way they made her more female in this one was to have her take off her clothes.”
2. In the same interview, she also stressed that Leia’s position of leadership (of the underground rebellion) would have been impossible in a more “realistic” film at that time:
“Movies are dreams! And they work on you subliminally. You can play Leia as capable, independent, sensible, a soldier, a fighter, a woman in control — control being, of course, a lesser word than master. But you can portray a woman who’s a master and get through all the female prejudice if you have her travel in time, if you add a magical quality, if you’re dealing in fairy-tale terms. People need these bigger-than-life projections.”
3. “You should fight for your outfit,” Fisher said in an interview alongside Daisy Ridley for Interview Magazine, who plays Rey in a Star Wars sequel. “Don’t be a slave like I was.”
She also warned Ridley, “it’s hard to date once you’re a big ‘Star Wars’ star because you don’t want to give people the ability to say, ‘I had sex with Princess Leia.’”
4. Over on the Wall Street Journal, Fisher said this about parents calling for a ban on Leia’s controversial doll in her bikini outfit: "I think that’s stupid … The father who flipped out about it, ‘What am I going to tell my kid about why she’s in that outfit?’ Tell them that a giant slug captured me and forced me to wear that stupid outfit, and then I killed him because I didn’t like it. And then I took it off. Backstage."
5. In the same interview, she also evoked the issue of finding a job as an older woman in Hollywood: “I’m a female working in show business, where, if you’re famous, you have a career until you’re 45, maybe. Maybe. And that’s about 15 people.”
6. On Saturday Night Live, when asked about Hollywood requiring her to lose weight to fit in Princess Leia’s character, she said “they did not want all of me, just a part of me — only three-fourth, and I had to get rid of a fourth, and the fourth can’t be with me.”
About the reason Leia never got her own lightsaber, she replied "You know, it’s this thing about women: even in space, there’s a double standard," Fisher told Stephen Colbert.
Related video added by Juan Cole: