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Of all the many things we’re excited to see later this month in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, high up on the list is the returning big three from the original trilogy. The moment we learned that Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher were all coming back, we let out a little squeal of glee. When asked if the decision to return to that far, far away galaxy after more than 30 years was a difficult one, Fisher responded with a blunt answer.
Leia, who we now know has traded out the Princess tag for General, is one of those roles that is difficult for an actor to escape—much like Luke Skywalker, it casts a long shadow—and this played a part in Fishers decision. But her choice also had a lot to do with a bigger issue in Hollywood, the lack of quality roles for aging actresses. When Time caught up with the 59-year-old actress and asked if her decision making process was difficult, she said:
No, I’m a female and in Hollywood it’s difficult to get work after 30—maybe it’s getting to be 40 now. I long ago accepted that I am Princess Leia. I have that as a large part of the association with my identity. There wasn’t a lot of hesitation.
This is a topic that has been discussed quite a bit lately, about how once an actress gets past a certain age, the availability of decent roles takes a sharp nosedive. Up to a point, you can either play a young romantic interest, and then eventually you can play a mother, but in between, quality parts are hard to come by. Of course, this ties into concerns like a lack of female directors working on big movies, a lack of female-led movies in general, and the larger issue of gender inequality in the industry.
Granted, that isn’t the only reason Carrie Fisher opted to return to her best known character, though it was definitely a factor that came into play. She does say that she was "glad" to reprise the role, and she, like many fans, was interested to see how Leia changed and evolved over the years. We’re glad to have her back, and see what has become of one of the best science fiction characters of all time over the last 30 years. She was always a capable military leader, and from her new title, it sounds like that is a path that she continued to follow.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens picks up 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, and will catch us up with some of our favorite characters as well as introduce a new generation of heroes and villains. In the interim, the Rebel Alliance has become the Resistance, and the Empire has morphed into the First Order, and though we don’t know exactly how all of this happened, we can’t wait to find out on December 18.