With Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi hitting theaters later this year, the stars of the beloved series are still coming to terms with the death of Carrie Fisher.
In a recent sit-down interview with Vanity Fair, stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill and director Rian Johnson opened up about the impact Fisher had on their lives and on the genre-defining series.
For Ridley, who stars as the strong, dedicate heroine Rey, Fisher was an inspiration and a guiding light for her as she developed her new character and grew into her new status as a movie star in the public eye.
“Carrie lived her life the way she wanted to, never apologizing for anything, which is something I’m still learning,” Ridley recounted. ”‘Embarrassed’ is the wrong word, but there
were times through it all when I felt like I was … shrinking. And she told me never to shrink away from it—that it should be enjoyed.”
As for Boyega, who stars as a reformed Stormtrooper and freedom fighter, the English actor faced a lot of hateful comments from internet trolls who decried the inclusion of a black actor in the Star Wars universe.
According to Boyega, Carrie played a big part in encouraging him to ignore the bile-spewing hatemongers and just embrace his exciting role.
“She said, ‘Ah, boohoo, who f**kin’ cares? You just do you,'” Boyega remembered. “Words like that give you strength. I bore witness in a million ways to her sharing her wisdom with Daisy too.”
Oscar Isaac, who stars as a hot-shot ace fighter pilot, got to spend a lot more screen time with Fisher in The Last Jedi than in The Force Awakens — where Fisher’s role was minimal — and Isaac playfully recalled the fun and dedication Fisher brought to her role as the leader of the Resistance.
“We did this scene where Carrie has to slap me,” he said. “I think we did 27 takes in all, and Carrie leaned into it every time, man. She loved hitting me. Rian found such a wonderful way of working with her, and I think she really relished it.”
Director Rian Johnson, who also penned the screenplay for The Last Jedi, recounted how Fisher affected the creative process and his filmmaking.
“After I had a draft, I would sit down with her when I was working on re-writing,” Johnson shared. “Sitting with her on her bed, in her insane bedroom with all this crazy modern art around us, TCM on the TV, a constant stream of Coca-Cola, and Gary the dog slobbering at her feet.”
“Out of everyone, Carrie was the one I really became friends with and expected to have in my life for years and years,” he continued. “I last saw her in November, at the birthday party that she threw at her house. In a way, it was the perfect final, encapsulating image of Carrie—receiving all her friends in the bedroom, with Debbie holding court in the living room.”
The legendary actress died in December, days after going into cardiac arrest during a flight from London to Los Angeles International Airport. After receiving advanced life support from the paramedics, Fisher was relocated to a nearby hospital where she later died.
As for Hamill — whose 40-year friendship with Fisher began when they appeared alongside each other in the original Star Wars film, released in 1977 — the reality of Fisher’s death is too much for him to comprehend.
“I can’t say that phrase… Carrie’s name and then the d-word,” he said. “Because I think of her in the present tense.”
“Maybe it’s a form of denial, but she’s so vibrant in my mind, and so vital a part of the family, that I can’t imagine it without her,” he added. “It’s just so untimely, and I’m so angry.”
According to Hamill, the pair’s friendship started off as a mutual attraction on set, but they quickly transitioned their emotional connection into something deeper and more familial.
“We were really attracted to each other. We got to the point where we were having our make-out sessions—and then we pulled back,” Hamill recounted. “We also realized that, if we did this, everything would fundamentally change. It’s the When Harry Met Sally plot—can we still be friends after intimacy? Wisely, we avoided that.”
Hamill would go on to marry his current wife, Marilou, in 1978, while Fisher struck up a fleeting but passionate affair with Harrison Ford, which she only recently revealed in her memoir, The Princess Diarist, which was released months before her death.
In the days following Fisher’s passing, Hamill paid tribute to his friend and co-star, calling her his “beloved space-twin.”
“It’s never easy to lose such a vital, irreplaceable member of the family, but this is downright heartbreaking,” the actor said in a statement. “Carrie was one-of-a-kind who belonged to us all- whether she liked it or not.” Check out the video below to hear more.
Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi flies into theaters December 15.