Billie Lourd, actor (“Booksmart”) and daughter of the late Carrie Fisher, opened up about her mother bringing her along for Fisher’s return to the “Star Wars” franchise in an emotional op-ed for Time. Lourd, who didn’t watch the original trilogy until she was six years old and stayed away from movie sets as a child, explained how Fisher encouraged her to audition for the 2015 franchise installment “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
After shunning sci-fi and her mother’s iconic character for years, Lourd revealed that she arrived on the “Star Wars” set like a “doe-eyed child” feeling like “a giddy, grateful middle schooler showing up to a fancy new school.”
Fisher’s first act as a new stage mom was pushing the film’s hairstylist to give Lourd the same side-buns she wore as Princess Leia. “Some people carry on their family name, some people carry on holiday traditions – I was going to carry on the family hairstyle. So after we tested a few other space-appropriate hairstyles, we decided to embrace the weird galactic nepotism of it all and went with the mini-Leia buns,” Lourd explained. “[Fisher] stood in the mirror behind me and smiled like we had gotten matching tattoos. Our secret-handshake hairstyle.”
When it came time to shoot the day’s scene, Fisher went full stage mom, repeatedly checking in on Lourd even though she had no lines.
“I scoffed at her maternal questions like a child embarrassed by her mother yelling goodbye too loud in a carpool line: ‘Mommy, go away! I’m fine. Focus on you, not me!'” Lourd wrote. “In the moment, I was humiliated that my mom was moming me on my first day of work, on the ‘Star Wars’ set, of all places.”
Lourd recognized that Fisher was just being protective, and the two shared their ride home from set. Fisher suggested that acting was something that Lourd should consider doing.
“My mom was telling me I should act — my mom? The lady who spent my entire life convincing me acting was the last thing I should do?” Lourd wrote. “It couldn’t be true. But it was. My mom wanted me to be an actress. That was when I realized I had to give it a shot.”
Lourd has since appeared in “Scream Queens,” “American Horror Story” and, of course, Olivia Wilde’s “Booksmart.”
The mother-daughter duo went on to appear together in the 2017 installment, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” They were set to continue in the upcoming “The Rise of Skywalker,” but Fisher died of a heart attack in December 2016 before filming began.
“We wrapped ‘The Last Jedi’ a little less than six months before she died. I went back to L.A. to film the show I was on, and she stayed in London to film the show she was on,” Lourd wrote. “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.”
“Losing my mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. 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.”
Lourd explained how director J.J. Abrams presented his plans for Leia a year after Fisher’s death. Abrams told Lourd that they had collected enough footage of Fisher over the years to write a movie around and asked if Lourd wanted to reprise her role of Lieutenant Connix.
“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,” Lourd wrote. “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.”
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is in theaters Dec. 20.