Princess Leia is one of the most iconic characters in the Star Wars saga, in large part due to the fiery and determined performance by the late and great Carrie Fisher. She imbued a member of royalty with compassion, an ambassador with dignity, and a military commander with grit. She started as a headstrong young Senator and became a hero of the Republic. She was a mother, a sister, a wife, and a Skywalker. She never let down the legacy of her families, and was a beacon of hope and inspiration to the galaxy. With such a definitive narrative, one would think everything about Princess Leia has already been covered. Could she have any skeletons in her closet? Any hidden secrets or enigmatic facts about her past?
CBR has scoured the far corners of that galaxy far, far away to bring you 15 dark secrets even diehard fans don’t know about the classiest princess in the entire galaxy, Princess Leia. From the classic original trilogy, to the prequels, The Force Awakens, and the Expanded Universe of novels and comics, no stone has gone unturned. If you thought you knew everything about General Leia Organa Solo, you may just be surprised.
15 SHE ALMOST TURNED TO THE DARK SIDE
Ever wonder what would have happened if Luke had accepted Vader’s proposal at Cloud City? The Dark Empire series of comics explored just that alternate storyline, written by Tom Veitch and illustrated by Cam Kennedy. Released by Dark Horse Comics in 1991 and 1992, it consisted of 6 issues and chronicled Luke taking the place of Vader at the side of a young Palpatine clone resurrected for the purpose of further dominating the galaxy after the events of Return of the Jedi.
With Luke the obedient lapdog of the Emperor, they work to capture and turn Leia to the dark side. For a time, Luke is very persuasive in coercing her, especially when he explains how powerful she could be as an agent of evil. But Leia is as stubborn as ever and strives to save the goodness within her brother.
14 LEIA USES THE FORCE IN ALL THREE ORIGINAL STAR WARS FILMS
Though less overtly knowledgeable in the ways of the Force than her brother Luke, Leia nevertheless utilizes the Force in each of the three original Star Wars films. In A New Hope, she manages to resist an Imperial interrogation droid, as well as Vader’s verbal interrogation and mind control. The latter is explained in a passage from the novelization of A New Hope by Alan Dean Foster, in which Leia senses the “cold icy grip” of the dark side trying to invade her mind, but she goes to a “warm place” where the “rumbling voice cannot reach her”.
In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke reaches out to her through the Force on Cloud City and she is able to sense his presence. In Return of the Jedi, she tells Han she could feel that Luke wasn’t aboard the Death Star when it exploded.
13 SHE TRAVELED TO THE BIRTH PLANET OF HER MOTHER
The series Star Wars: Shattered Empire takes place just after Return of the Jedi, and focuses on Leia dealing with the direct aftermath of a collapsed Galactic Empire. In Star Wars: Shattered Empire #3, she accompanies Shara Bey to Naboo, the planet where her birth mother was born, raised, and ruled. Unbeknownst to her, Imperial operatives are carrying out Operation: Cinder, involving Emperor Palpatine’s weather-affecting satellites that cause hurricanes on the planet’s surface.
When Shara, Leia, and the current Queen of Naboo jump into action to destroy the satellites from the cockpits of a few yellow Naboo fighters, Leia encounters an interesting presence in the hangar bay. As the doors slide open, she feels a cold chill and the presence of the Sith warrior who once stood in the exact same spot: Darth Maul.
12 SHE KEPT THE ORIGINS OF HER HERITAGE A SECRET
With the release of The Force Awakens, authors have begun to fill in the timeline of events between Return of the Jedi and the capstone trilogy of Star Wars episodes. Set ten years prior to Episode VII, the novel Star Wars: Bloodline follows General Leia as she struggles to rebuild the New Republic and take on the First Order. Restoring a Galactic Senate is no easy task, especially when two political parties are vying for dominance; the Populists, who champion planet autonomy, and the Centrists, who favor galactic governmental control.
In an attempt to undermine General Leia’s Populist agenda, her heritage is outed on the Senate floor. By this time, the galaxy has been aware of the identity of Luke Skywalker’s father, but Leia’s paternal legacy has been a carefully guarded secret. Needless to say, the daughter of Darth Vader is not a title that is received warmly.
11 SHE’S FACED VADER IN COMBAT
When the original Star Wars came out in 1977 and execs were pondering the success of a sequel, the novel Splinter of the Mind’s Eye was written as the possible plot for a low budget sequel should the need arise. It followed Luke and Leia on a mission to the planet Circarpous V, where they discovered the location of the “Kaiburr Crystal”, a mystical gem that granted its possessors near infinite powers over the Force.
The crystal would later be mined by the First Order to power its Starkiller Base, and used by Jedi to power and focus the beams of their lightsabers. Darth Vader follows the pair to Circarpous and engages them in combat. When Luke is incapacitated, Leia seizes the moment. She grabs Luke’s lightsaber and faces Vader herself.
10 SHE RECEIVED ROYAL TRAINING IN MARTIAL ARTS
As a member of Alderaanian royalty and a powerful political figurehead, Princess Leia’s upbringing included studies in diplomacy, cultural anthropology, art, music, and yes, martial arts. The five part mini-series of comics Star Wars: Princess Leia delves into her background, which also included being a skilled pilot, a plot point explored more fully when she goes on a mission with Poe Dameron’s mother in Star Wars: Shattered Empire.
Out of all the characters in the Star Wars movies, Princess Leia has the highest success rate when it comes to landing a blaster bolt at 66%. She jumped into action the minute Luke and Han rescued her in A New Hope, she went after Han posing as a bounty hunter in Return of the Jedi, and she volunteered to be a part of Han’s strike team without a second thought. All that martial training really paid off!
9 SHE WAS ALMOST PLAYED BY JODIE FOSTER
Back in the mid ‘70s when George Lucas was casting all the young Hollywood hopefuls for parts in his space opera, the role of Princess Leia was a hot commodity. He auditioned a slew of famous faces at that time, including Meryl Streep, Berlin’s lead singer Terri Nunn, and Sissy Spacek. Jodie Foster got the farthest through the audition process, then only fourteen.
At the time, Lucas had envisioned that Leia and Luke were twins in their teens, and that Han might be in his early 20s. As time progressed, however, Luke and Leia were made to be young adults, putting Han in his 30s. Carrie Fisher was a mere 21 when she played Princess Leia, and combined the perfect amounts of youthful optimism and grounded pragmatism.
8 CARRIE FISHER PERFORMED HER OWN STUNTS
Lets face it; as impressive as the scope of the Star Wars movies has gotten, back in 1977, Lucas was working with a shoestring budget and cutting corners wherever he could. He wanted to put the most money he could into the special effects, models, and costuming. Notoriously grumpy in regards to actors, he’s been quoted as saying if he could make movies with entirely CG’ed casts, he would (given how there’s no pleasing the talent).
Perhaps this is why Carrie Fisher was forced to do many of her own stunts, though something about her bearing conveys the thought that she would have demanded to do them anyway. In the infamous scene where she and Mark Hamill swing across a chasm to safety amidst a barrage of stormtrooper blaster fire, they performed the stunt themselves and they did it in just one take.
7 THAT HAIRSTYLE
When it came to character concepts for Princess Leia, Lucas played around with a vast array of ideas. From the designs for her clothes to her hairstyle, her look was constantly evolving. She was given rows of braids, pigtails, and even ornamental coiffures that would have put anything Queen Amidala sported to shame. Eventually, however, Lucas settled on the “cinnamon buns” hairdo that has become so iconic, and based on the hairstyles of native Mexican women.
After A New Hope, Leia sported several different hairdos, and she would eventually incorporate more than ten of Lucas’s original designs into Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. About the only thing more iconic than Leia’s hairdo was the slave outfit she wore in Return of the Jedi.
6 SHE SANG IN THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL
Some fans like to pretend like the oft ridiculed Star Wars Holiday Special never happened, but even though it seems out of sync with the rest of the saga, it has some novel charm. Where else can you see Bea Arthur play a singing Cantina bartender? Or an animated Boba Fett short spliced into the middle of it? Or hang out with Chewie’s family for the annual Kashyyk holiday Life Day?
Originally, Lucas wanted to make Endor the Wookie planet, not the home of the Ewoks. But for budget reasons, he had to reserve it for the Holiday Special. To cap it off, Princess Leia sings the Life Day Song to the tune of the Star Wars Theme. Guaranteed to brighten the spirits of even the grumpiest galactic Grinch.
5 CARRIE FISHER GAVE UP HER CUT OF LEIA MERCH
No one suspected in May of 1977 that Star Wars was going to be the smash hit of the summer that it was. It not only revolutionized the concept of the “blockbuster”, it also changed the landscape of cinematic brand marketing and merchandising. Suddenly Star Wars was everywhere; splattered on bedspreads, lunch boxes, and Christmas ornaments. It wasn’t just the toy market that blasted into hyperspace; it was anything that boasted Star Wars imagery or character likenesses.
Since no one was getting paid much to be in the movie, the actors had an option to take pay cuts for a cut of the merchandise pie. Carrie Fisher opted to take her full salary and signed away her likeness. This meant that she got no residuals for any Leia coffee mug, any Leia doll, or any Leia cookie cutter sold.
4 CARRIE FISHER’S DAUGHTER WAS IN EPISODE 7
Billie Lourd, aka Princess Leia’s daughter was already getting rave reviews for her role on Scream Queens when she was cast in Episode VII. Fans speculated on who Billie would play, and whether or not she’d have any scenes shared with her famous mother. Unfortunately, not only do they not share any scenes but you have to watch pretty closely to catch a glimpse of her character . She plays Lieutenant Connix, an operative in the Resistance army, who spends her time onscreen in front of a large view screen plotting battlefield trajectories.
In the third act, she does get to address General Leia in a brief exchange of dialogue, which is pretty awesome. She’s purported to have a larger role in Episode VIII, and hopefully gets out of the control room!
3 LEIA WAS ALMOST MARRIED BEFORE SHE MARRIED HAN
Han and Leia were almost married at the end of the original trilogy, but the wedding ceremony couldn’t be worked in convincingly amidst the action. The novels, comics, and Expanded Universe toyed with several different scenarios in which the big day eventually happened. Before all that, The Courtship of Princess Leia detailed a time period between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back when she was sought after by other suitors.
One such suitor, Prince Isolder of Hapes, came from a matriarchal society in which the women hold all the most important positions and the men are used for breeding and lifting heavy things. When Han gets wind of this, he kidnaps Leia before she can enter into any relationship with someone other than him.
2 SHE BECAME A JEDI KNIGHT IN THE NOVELS
Though Episode VII features a general firmly in the trenches of galactic warfare, the novels and comics tell a different story. They depict Princess Leia seeking training from her brother Luke as well as Saba Sebatyne. A female Barabel that took an oath to join Luke’s new Jedi Order, she fights in the great Yuuzhan Vong War and eventually gets promoted to the rank of Jedi Master. Between the training from Luke and Sebatyne, Leia eventually earns the rank of Jedi Knight herself.
J.J. Abrams has stated that the reason he didn’t depict Leia as a Jedi in Episode VII, despite her Force sensitivity, was that she would have chosen a different path than her brother. She wanted to stay committed to the cause of the Rebellion and the Resistance.
1 SHE WASN'T BORN ON ALDERAAN
Ask any fan standing in line for a midnight Star Wars showing where they think Princess Leia was born and you’ll probably get the same response; Alderaan. Some more discerning fans might wonder if perhaps it was Naboo, since after Padme Skywalker went into labor she was transported off Mustafar, and later scenes set her funeral on Naboo. Both answers are in fact wrong!
Answer the Polis Massan medical facility and be considered the coolest person in line! After Anakin Skywalker nearly choked Amidala to death she was rushed to the advanced surgical center located on the asteroid colony Polis Massa. It was there that she gave birth to Luke and Leia. Leia was placed with the Organa family on Alderaan and Luke was placed with the Lars family on Tatooine.