Fans who grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy remember the scene in Return of the Jedi when Princess Leia, played by Carrie Fisher, is held captive by Jabba the Hutt. Her “Slave Leia” outfit — a skimpy gold bikini and a neck chain — are part of the Star Wars iconography.
But the outfit is controversial, and it was recently rumored that Disney, which now owns all Star Wars properties, is phasing out all merchandise depictions of the “Slave Leia” costume. Fisher herself has long spoken out against the garb, even telling Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Daisy Ridley that she should stand up for herself if asked to pose in provocative attire.
But Fisher has taken a more nuanced take on the issue of the Slave Leia merchandise, and how parents should speak to their children about the image. Over the summer, Fisher responded to a father upset about “Slave Leia” toys by saying he should change the conversation about the issue. It’s a view she echoed in a new interview with The Wall Street Journal, where she said Leia’s courageous actions to end her enslavement should be highlighted and not her objectification.
“[To] the father who flipped out about it, ‘What am I going to tell my kid about why she’s in that outfit?’ Tell them that a giant slug captured me and forced me to wear that stupid outfit, and then I killed him because I didn’t like it. And then I took it off. Backstage.”
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Fisher again said the narrative should focus on the fact that Leia is not in the outfit willingly and does not approve of her circumstance.
“How about telling his daughter that the character is wearing that outfit not because she’s chosen to wear it. She’s been forced to wear it.”
Kathleen Kennedy, now president of Lucasfilm, told the Times that Leia was the model for the strong women in the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
“Leia really held her own. We used that as kind of a touchstone for why it was so important to have a strong female character and hopefully many more strong female characters in the ‘Star Wars’ universe.”
Fisher has been doing extensive press for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, including an appearance Friday on Good Morning America. Appearing on stage with her dog Gary, Fisher revealed she’d seen the film and it met with her approval. Referring to her pup’s flapping tongue, she said that was a result of seeing the movie.
“It’ll happen to everyone. Worth it, though. That’s how good it is. You won’t care that your tongue is out of your mouth like that.”
Fisher’s appearance on GMA follows an earlier appearance on the same program by Harrison Ford, who also expressed his approval of the new film. As The Independent reported, few would expect the film’s stars would give anything but a positive review, but Ford’s words were particularly encouraging.
“It’s a wonderful movie. It’s got great production values. It’s a real big movie and I was delighted to see it.”
One cast member who has been noticeably absent from the press tours and Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailers and promotional materials is Mark Hamill, and his legendary character Luke Skywalker. During a takeover of the Star Wars Twitter account on Friday, director J.J. Abrams answered a teasing question from Hamill by saying, “Where have you been?!” There was an “all caps” emphasis.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens Friday, December 18.
[Main photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images Entertainment]