Carrie Fisher: remembering her 12 best Leia moments on her birthday

Carrie Fisher would have been 64 today, so we're remembering the Star Wars icon on her birthday with a blog retrospective of her best Leia movie moments. Scroll down to discover our choices.


1. Concealing the Death Star plans

It all started here for Leia, as she commits her most radical act of sabotage against the evil Imperial forces of Darth Vader (David Prowse/James Earl Jones). The unassuming moment where she passes droid R2-D2 the plans for the Death Star sets in motion the Rebel Alliance counter-attack, and henceforth the narrative of the enusing Star Wars sagas. We got the prologue to this critical moment in 2016 movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, in which we glimpsed a de-aged CGI Leia getting hold of the plans for the first time.

2. Confronting Grand Moff Tarkin

Peter Cushing's calculating Imperial officer Tarkin gets a frosty welcome from Leia, as she announces that she could "smell his stench". There's little love lost between the two, but for the time being Tarkin has the advantage, armed with more than just insults. To that end, he initiates one of the most heartbreaking scenes in Star Wars as he orders the obliteration of Alderaan via the Death Star. This would later be echoed in the actions of the all-powerful Starkiller Base in 2015's The Force Awakens.

3. "Walking carpet" insult

Just as Carrie Fisher herself was a razor-sharp satirist, so too does Leia have a way with words. Her verbal takedown of Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) is the perfect, albeit hurtful, description of the loyal Wookie.


4. Arguing with Han Solo

Having been introduced in A New Hope, Leia and Han properly get to know each other in follow-up movie The Empire Strikes Back. It's widely considered to be the best in the franchise, one of the reasons being the enjoyably prickly, slow-burn romance between the space cowboy and the princess. We all know where it's going, but in classic movie style, watching them get there is the entertaining bit, particularly when they're besieged on Hoth by Vader's Imperial forces, and getting on each other's nerves.

5. Arriving at Bespin

In terms of its dialogue, this isn't an especially memorable scene. (The stunning visuals and John Williams' score do the work.) However, there's a backstory behind it, and that's why we're including it. Watch carefully and you'll see that Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford are barely concealing the giggles. That's because the night before shooting, they became high at a London party hosted by Monty Python's Eric Idle. Their comedown unfortunately coincided with the filming of the Millennium Falcon's all-important arrival at Bespin Cloud City. This is site of Han's eventual betrayal by Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams).

6. "I love you"

The most famous Han/Leia moment in the series is a triumph of understatement, and again there's a backstory to go with it. Beset by hot lights, steam and dialogue that didn't resonate, Fisher, Ford and director Irvin Kershner were struggling to nail the emotional tone of the scene. In desperation, Ford, who didn't believe in Han's initially mushy "I love you too" response prior to his carbonite freeze, changed his response to the taciturn, "I know". Who says going off-script doesn't work?


7. Dispatching Jabba the Hutt

Clad in that (in)famous gold bikini, Leia breaks out in a moment of atypical savagery when she kills slaver Jabba the Hutt. Mind you, the villain has asked for it: he's got Han Solo on ice in carbonite, has taken Leia hostage and is threatening to throw Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) into the sarlacc pit. When all chaos breaks loose, Leia is able to assert her badass credentials and finish off one of the most repulsive Star Wars baddies.

8. Listening to Luke's confession

The various family threads of the Star Wars saga come together in Return of the Jedi. Having discovered that Darth Vader is his dad, Anakin Skywalker, in The Empire Strikes Back, Luke must now reveal to Leia that he is her brother. Fisher's appreciably understated response resonates with deep feeling, showing how the Force flows through Leia in the midst of the revelation: "Somehow, I've always known." It's an indication of the nuance Fisher brought to the role, and a microcosm of the family tragedy that makes Return of the Jedi an emotionally powerful experience (when you remove the Ewoks, that is).

9. "He's my brother"

George Lucas' ever-changing Star Wars mythology created some sticky wickets in the early going. In The Empire Strikes Back, there's a scene where Leia kisses Luke full on the mouth. However, with the mid-production twist of Darth Vader being Luke's father, and the later reveal of Leia being his sister, this becomes understandably icky. Little wonder there had to be an expository scene at the end of Return of the Jedi, in which a jealous Han is reassured by Leia that it's brothlerly, not romantic, love that Luke feels towards Leia. Ford's facial reactions are priceless.


10. Reuniting with Han

Some 32 years after her last appearance, Fisher returns as Leia, now known as General Organa. Of course, the passage of time has wrought huge change, and this is teased out eloquently through the body language of Fisher and Harrison Ford. There's a tentative, damaged air to their romance now, as the spectre of their vengeful son Ben Solo/Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) hangs over the proceedings. The recognisable flute iteration of the Han/Leia love theme by John Williams is, by this stage, increasingly melancholic and frail, suggesting the divide that's come between them, and the future that now hangs in the balance.


11. Leia uses the Force

This is a widely pilloried moment in Rian Johnson's divisive Star Wars movie, but it allows us to glimpse something we've never seen before. Back in Return of the Jedi, Leia sensed that she was strong with the Force, but it wasn't until we got to 2017 that those abilities were put to the test. Admittedly, it does result in a bizarre 'Leia Poppins' interlude, as her son Kylo Ren blasts her into space, prompting a Force-assisted, unconscious glide back to safety. Nevertheless, it's a sign of how Johnson was prepared to shake things up. How one responds to it is another matter entirely.


12. Leia's sacrifice

Following Fisher's death in December 2016, the makers of The Rise of Skywalker were presented with a dilemma. They ultimately decided to splice in unused footage from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, to surprisingly seamless effect. It's a testament to Fisher's inherent charisma that we aren't looking for the joins; instead, we're basking in the knowledge that this is the last time Leia will appear on the big screen. She goes out in style, dying along with her son Kylo Ren (although he's later healed) in a manner that suggests their deep Force connection.


What's your favourite Carrie Fisher moment from the Star Wars saga? Let us know @Cineworld.