Carrie Fisher, in Hong Kong for charity ball, revels in Star Wars legacy
Actress, in town for charity event, is 'chuffed' to be in latest instalment
But during a visit to Hong Kong to raise funds for local children’s charity The Hub, Fisher did let one thing slip – she is playing a “legacy character” in the film due for release in December next year.
“I’m in it. So are the other people,” she said on Friday, when asked what she can reveal about The Force Awakens, her first appearance as Princess Leia since Return of the Jedi in 1983.
“We’re referred to as the legacy characters. No one knows that,” Fisher said of the tag given to the trio played by herself, Mark “Luke Skywalker” Hamill and Harrison “Han Solo” Ford.
And she soon warmed to the topic – even if she was cool to the idea.
“I always thought that was the worst, oldest word you could ever … It’s something I heard as we were going along: ‘the legacy characters’. That word is very weird to me. It means you have grey hair.”
Never far from a witty line, a flight of fancy or a pointed joke – usually at her own expense – it is not hard to see why Fisher is now almost as well known for her writing and one-woman theatre shows as for her acting career. But her passion for Star Wars always shines through.
When asked to give a message to fans of the movie franchise in Hong Kong, she said: “The thing is about these movies: they’re part of everyone’s childhood and that’s what’s so extraordinary about them.
“People have known me all their lives – better than I’ve known myself. And they’ve liked me a lot more than I’ve liked myself a lot of those times. That’s what I think is so powerful; it’s these fairytales and there’s going to be more. There’s something so darling. There’s this British word, chuffed. I’m chuffed to be a part of it.”
One part of the world that the saga from a galaxy far, far away has not yet cracked is mainland China. Charles Wessler, a film producer who worked on two Star Wars films, said that even back in the 1980s, a privileged few Chinese fans saw the film.
“When we’re working on The Empire Strikes Back, George [Lucas] came to visit and there were like 30 Chinese people. In those days, Chinese people from mainland China in London on a set in 1979? What are they doing here?” said Wessler, who set up Fisher’s visit to The Hub charity ball. “It was really that alien. And George had invited them and he screened Star Wars for the first time to them on that visit and it blew their minds.”
It is a familiar experience for Fisher, who says watching people see the films for the first time is “fun, like watching a new dawn” – which goes some way to explain why her character has become a pop culture icon.
“I’m not theoretically Princess Leia, but yes I am. I’m her and she’s me,” Fisher says. “There’s no Mini Mouse so I can’t go hang out with her and say, ‘Isn’t this weird?’ There’s not that many people for me to bond with things over. It’s a very particular experience.”
But when the filming actually started, “it was strangely … ordinary. But then that is sort of my ordinary. It was nice to see everyone in the same room, only half of us looked melted. That’s what legacy means in the original Latin. Melted, once young people.”
Film producer Charles Wessler helps Hong Kong-based charity The Hub
Film producer Charles Wessler went the extra mile to help Hong Kong-based charity The Hub. Not only did he arrange for Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher to visit, he also chased stars from one of his biggest films to sign an item for an auction that was expected to help raise HK$3.8 million for needy children.
“If [only] the people who are bidding on it knew what it took to get that stupid poster,” he said of the poster from the 1998 comedy There’s Something About Mary, signed by stars Cameron Diaz and Ben Stiller. The poster criss-crossed the US before ending up in Hong Kong.
Then there was a poster from his latest hit Dumb and Dumber To, riding high at the top of the US box-office charts.
Wessler got a measure of what he was working for when he joined Fisher in Myanmar to see two orphanages supported by the charity. “The cutest kids … these kids were just cute, cute, cute, and they’re being taken care of in a first-class way,” he said of the orphans, some of whom lost their parents to Aids. “It’s got a really positive attitude all around. The people working at both these places give these kids a tremendous amount of love.”
Wessler learned about The Hub’s cause from another producer, John Penotti.
“I looked at the websites and the video they sent and it seemed like a really great organisation,” he said.