Star Wars Celebration kicked off Thursday with a look back at the legacy of the Star Wars films over the past 40 years—and a fitting tribute to everyone’s favorite princess and general.
The 40 Years of Star Wars panel started off paying homage to Kenny Baker (R2-D2) and Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa), who both died in 2016. After a long panel featuring Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, George Lucas, and much of the original trilogy and prequel trilogy casts, Kennedy and Lucas both returned to the stage specifically to honor Fisher. Her sudden death in December stunned the world and months later, those who knew her are still heartbroken; Lucas’ voice cracked as he spoke of Fisher, calling her “one in a billion.”
“She was a princess, she was a senator, and she played a part that was very smart,” Lucas said. “And she had to hold her own with two big lugs, these goofballs who were screwing everything up.”
Billie Lourd, Fisher’s daughter, soon joined the stage with a dress homaging Fisher’s most famous role. Speaking to the thousands of Star Wars fans in the audience she honored her mother and Leia, who often are conflated as one—something Fisher had touched on during her life—and thanked the fans for embracing her.
“My mom used to say she never knew where Princess Leia ended and Carrie Fisher began,” she said. “She was imperfect in many ways but her imperfections and willingness to speak about them are what made her more than perfect. My mom, like Leia, wasn’t ever afraid to speak her mind and say things that might have made most people uncomfortable, but not me and not you. That was why she loved you, because you accepted and embraced all of her.”
Lucasfilm aired a tribute to Fisher’s life. Footage and interviews showed both the Leia we loved and the smart and talented actress we got to know in later years (including a recitation of her New Hope monologue across decades), as well as the legacy she left behind.
You’ll want to grab the whole box of tissues for this one.
After the tribute ended, the curtain rose to reveal Star Wars composer John Williams joined by a full orchestra to perform “Princess Leia’s Theme” in honor of Fisher.