Billie Lourd opens up about her relationship with the person nearest and dearest to her heart — Hollywood icon (and her mother) Carrie Fisher — in a personal essay published in TIME.
Lourd shares the impact of her mother's iconic role as Princess Leia in Star Wars, admitting that as a child, she was not a fan of the franchise because it required so much of her mother. After years of resisting the force of the science fiction epic, Lourd took it upon herself to try and understand the hype around Star Wars by finally watching the first film from start to end. By the time the end credits rolled around, Lourd's awe of the intergalactic rebel had swelled to match that of the crowd of fans swarming Fisher wherever she had gone.
In 2015, Lourd joined her mother on the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens to take on her first acting role as Lieutenant Kaydel Ko Connix, a comrade in the Resistance. She later reprised the role in The Last Jedi. The precious time that the mother-daughter duo spent together on set was a brief but powerful reminder of Fisher’s cultural impact. “Watching the original Star Wars movies as a kid in my mom’s bed, I never imagined the lady in the TV would get older and get back in the TV,” writes Lourd. “And I definitely never imagined we would end up in the TV together. But that’s where we ended up.”
Before filming on The Last Jedi ended, 80-year-old Fisher died of cardiac-related issues. Tragically, Fisher’s mother, film legend Debbie Reynolds, also passed away one day later from what many believed to be a broken heart. The world was stunned by the double loss of the film stars; Reynold’s breakout role in the 1952 musical Singin’ in the Rain and the illustrious career that followed was likely the inspiration for her daughter to follow in her footsteps. The women were honored at a public memorial at the famed Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills cemetery.
Just two months shy of the third anniversary of the death of her mother and grandmother, Lourd is continuing her tradition of celebrating the great women in her family with her TIME essay, and taking ownership of the legacy that Fisher left behind by becoming “the keeper of Leia.”