Carrie Fisher: Forget weight, it's wit and courage that make a leading woman

Carrie Fisher is getting fit for her reprisal of her Princess Leia role in 'Star Wars: Episode VII.' The 'Star Wars' series serve as a bridge between generations, and a lesson that Carrie Fisher – or any princess – is more than her bikini.

Chris Pizzello/AP/FILE
Carrie Fisher attends the 2011 NewNowNext Awards in Los Angeles in the April 2011 file photo. Ms. Fisher is part of he cast of the latest incarnation of the space epic, "Star Wars: Episode VII," which was unveiled Tuesday, April 29.

The media is buzzing with news that Carrie Fisher has dropped 40 pounds to reprise her role as Princess Leia in the next "Star Wars" film. However, the weightless charm of the actress' comedic force, and her ability to carry on witty banter in character, are what make her the queen of the "Star Wars" scene, at any size.

I don’t think anyone is expecting to see Ms. Fisher, 57, in a foil bikini for this film.

However, I am hoping to get more family banter fodder from the verbal exchanges between her character and that of Harrison Ford’s, who will be reprising the role of Han Solo for the film.

This line exchange from “Star Wars: Episode V” has often been delivered to me by my sons and spouse over the years:

Han Solo (in a moment of absolute peril): “You said you wanted to be around when I made a mistake, well, this could be it, sweetheart.”

Princess Leia: “I take it back.” 

Another prize line my kids shoot at each other was also delivered by Fisher to Mr. Ford in the same film, “You have your moments. Not many of them, but you do have them.”

Fisher could have looked like Jabba the Hutt when she delivered those classics, and it wouldn’t have mattered at all to my kids today, just as it won’t matter to them what size Fisher is in the upcoming “Star Wars: Episode VII” when she, Ford, and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) all return to the “Star Wars” universe.

Debbie Reynolds, Fisher’s mom, recently told the entertainment news television show “Extra” that her daughter has been dieting since being cast, and has dropped 40 pounds for the role.

I love that all the news of Fisher’s weight loss and role preparation is coming from her kvelling mama, because it highlights the generational appeal of Star Wars.

The reason I care about Fisher stems from more than just one-liners.

The “Star Wars” films have become a reliable generational bridge between me and my kids, and my kids and their grandmother (also a fan) over the past 20 years.

Recently, “Star Wars” was the focal point of an awesome mom-son day of battle haze, mud, rainbows, and costumes.

On May 5th, I took my youngest son, Quin, 10, and two of his friends to a community light saber battle between local Jedi and Sith. After wishing people “May the fourth be with you” on May 4th, May 5th has been reserved for the “Dark Side” has become known as “Revenge of the Fifth” for fans of the films.

The event involves getting into costumes, grabbing toy light sabers, reinforced pool noodles, and other non-lethal saber-like items, and having at each other in five separate battles for supremacy.

It was on this field of battle that I came to understand what it is that made my family love Fisher as Leia, and why her attitude and delivery – not necessarily her appearance – are what really matter to kids.

The Revenge of the Fifth event included a costume contest for kids and adults.

The very first character the kids saw on the field at the event was a thin, pretty young woman dressed as Princess Leia.

Unfortunately, she spent most of her time plunked down in a folding chair, texting.

Then we saw the young woman’s competition for the coveted “Best Princess” costume contest category, a swarthy young man with five-o’clock shadow, hair buns framing his face, wearing a white terrycloth robe, chomping a cigar, and rallying the troops for the Jedi side.

“Mom, that dude is the best princess ever,” Quin laughed.

To my surprise, the hundred or so participants agreed, and he won the contest, which was sponsored by the local comic book store.

Quin and his friends chose to fight for the Sith side on the field, which was still muddy from a spring thundershower. A huge rainbow appeared over the field just as the battle commenced.

Hilarity and family bonding ensued, as I alternated between fighting for the Jedi and filming with my cell phone.

Afterward, all the boys wanted to talk about was the guy who won the “Best Princess” award. “Who cares how a princess looks,” said Quin. “The real Princess Leia would have been out there battling.”

I think the real princess would have slayed us with one-liners. 

While I totally relate to Fisher, who is a mother herself, and battles with struggles of weight gain and self-image which many moms work to overcome, I think the kids have a great point about substance over shape.

Sure, there is a valid argument to be made that by losing the weight Fisher is insuring that fans and critics alike focus on the story, and not the notion that Leia has let herself go.

However, when it comes to true fans, it’s all about the funny, and Fisher has a solid lock on that.

Honestly, for my kids and me, all Fisher has to do is fill each scene with that caustic charm and she will have us at “Would somebody please get this big walking carpet out of my way?”

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