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Billie Lourd has said she struggled to understand the world’s fascination with her mother’s “Star Wars” character, Princess Leia.
The 27-year-old actress, the daughter of Carrie Fisher and agent Bryan Lourd, 59, opened up about life in the shadow of her mother’s fame in an emotional essay for Time magazine and explained that coming to grips with the fact that her mother was one of the Lucasfilm franchise’s greatest assets took more time than one might expect.
“I grew up with three parents: a mom, a dad and Princess Leia,” Lourd said her article. “I guess Princess Leia was kind of like my stepmom – technically family, but deep down I didn’t really like her … When Leia was around, there wasn’t as much room for my mom – for Carrie.”
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Fisher, who died in 2016, starred as Princess Leia when the film series debuted in 1977 and reprised her role in the second trilogy almost 40 years later.
Billie Lourd, left, Carrie Fisher, center, and Debbie Reynolds pose during TNT’s 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 25, 2015 in Los Angeles, Calif. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
Fisher’s brother, Todd told Fox News in June 2018 that seeing his sister on the big screen as Princess Leia for the first time following her death in 2017's "The Last Jedi" was a great experience until he got to the moment where Leia was in a coma.
“I went to a lot of events the day of 'The Last Jedi,' and I finally got to an event where I actually watched the movie and everything was going great right up until the point that Carrie was in a coma,” he explained.
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“It was startling to see her in the state that I had just seen her in just a few months before and for real. And you know, you flash like, 'Is this life imitating art or art imitating life? What is this that I’m looking at?' It was remarkable that they had done that."
He told us that it reminded him of what it had been like watching his movie star mother, legendary actress Debbie Reynolds, die on-screen.
Actresses Carrie Fisher, left, and daughter and Billie Lourd embrace as they arrive at the premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, Calif. (REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)
“I had to reflect back on a moment with my mom to get through that scene – And that was when my mother played Charlotte in [the animated 1973 film] 'Charlotte’s Web,' and I was a little boy,” Fisher lamented. "And when I saw her dying as the spider, I started crying. And, she came and found me and she got in my face and said, ‘It’s only a movie. You’ve got to be able to separate. This is what I do, you’ve got to be able to separate.'"
“So, I was looking at that scene and I remembered that moment, and it stopped me from getting too emotional about it,” Fisher added. “But otherwise, it was pretty startling.”
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Reynolds and Fisher died a day apart in December 2016. Fisher was 60 and Reynolds was 84.
Lourd, who plays Lieutenant Connix in the sequel trilogy, wrote that she “didn’t want to watch her [mother's] movie, I didn’t want to dress up like her, I didn’t even want to talk about her.”
“I just wanted my mom – the one who lived on Earth,” she wrote.
Actress Billie Lourd, left, and her father, Creative Artists Agency Partner, Managing Director and Co-Chairman Bryan Lourd, attend the premiere of Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm’s "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" at The Shrine Auditorium on December 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, Calif. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
According to Lourd, it took watching her mother’s films as a middle-school student for her to realize what all the fuss was about.
“I realized then that Leia is more than just a character. She’s a feeling. She is strength. She is grace. She is wit. She is femininity at its finest,” the “Scream Queens” star wrote. “She knows what she wants, and she gets it. She doesn’t need anyone to defend her, because she defends herself.”
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“And no one could have played her like my mother,” she added. “Princess Leia is Carrie Fisher. Carrie Fisher is Princess Leia. The two go hand in hand.”
“One of the last times we spoke on the phone, she talked about how excited she was that the next movie in the trilogy was going to be Leia’s movie. Her movie,” Lourd recalled. “Leia was not just a sidekick one of the male leads had on his arm, or a damsel in distress. She was the hero herself.”
Disney and Lucasfilm announced in July 2018 that the final installment of the second “Star Wars” trilogy, "The Rise of Skywalker," would be reserved for the now-General Leia and with Lourd’s blessing, would include unused archival footage from the first installment, “The Force Awakens.” Director, J.J. Abrams discovered the footage of Fisher and rewrote scenes to include in “The Rise of Skywalker.”
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“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,” Lourd wrote about returning as Lieutenant Connix.
“I grew up with three parents: a mom, a dad and Princess Leia. Initially, Princess Leia was kind of like my stepmom. Now she’s my guardian angel. And I’m her keeper.”
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is slated to premiere on Dec. 20.
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