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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker marked Carrie Fisher’s final on-screen appearance as Leia Organa. That posthumous role did its best to tie up Leia’s story. But Fisher’s own personal life ultimately offers a more intriguing context for her Star Wars journey. In light of Fisher’s affair with co-star Harrison Ford, Leia and Han’s story plays very differently now.

Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford
Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford | Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Carrie Fisher revealed her decades-old affair with Harrison Ford in 2016

Star Wars fans — and even co-star Mark Hamill — were shocked to learn that Fisher and Ford engaged in a three-month affair on the set of the original movie. At the time, Ford was married with children. Meanwhile, Fisher was a 19-year-old up-and-coming star who had only just made her big-screen debut in 1975’s Shampoo

For nearly 40 years, Fisher managed to keep the affair a secret. But she finally revealed the truth in her 2016 memoir The Princess Diarist. Naturally, news of Fisher and Ford’s affair became a hot topic as the former discussed her new book. And Star Wars fans now have an entirely new prism through which to view the stories of Leia and Han in the original trilogy.

Their history adds new dimension to Han and Leia’s ‘Star Wars’ romance

After all, Fisher and Ford reprised their characters in the two initial sequels. Then they reunited decades later for 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. By the time they reported to the set of 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back, their own romance was years in the past. Ironically, that movie also sees Han and Leia’s own love story finally kick off. And that disconnect leaked its way into one of the movie’s most memorable moments.

In a 2016 interview with The Guardian, Fisher discussed how her relationship with Ford played into Leia’s declaration of love. In The Empire Strikes Back, she finally professes her feelings for Han just before he’s frozen in carbonite, to which he replies “I know.” Ford famously improvised that line, which Fisher said is “definitely informed by [their] relationship.”


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Carrie Fisher’s Leia legacy continues to impact ‘Star Wars’

While promoting her book, Fisher discussed how she was “infatuated” with Ford. The actor’s feeling weren’t exactly reciprocated in the same way. Yet, despite the clear contrast, Fisher and Ford created something special in their performances as Leia and Han.

And Fisher in particular has impacted generations of fans. So many look up to more than just the Star Wars princess-turned-general she played on screen. Fisher herself embodied a strength, honesty, and intelligence that made her a true original. And for decades, she undoubtedly brought those same qualities to Leia as well.