The Star Wars 40th Anniversary Celebration kicked off Thursday morning in Orlando, and the first panel was truly epic. Harrison Ford (Han Solo) surprised fans, alongside Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and director George Lucas.
And Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker) shared that he accidentally made lightsaber noises with his mouth during filming.
But the most touching part of the panel was dedicated to the late Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia throughout the franchise.
"She could hold her own against anything," Lucas said of Fisher at the panel. "She wore a dress through the whole thing, but she was the toughest one of the group. And that’s the key to Carrie being able to play that part. It was a hard part to play, and she pulled it off brilliantly. And it really shows the level of her talent. And at the same time, she was fun to be with."
Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, paid her respects to Fisher by saying, "She will be remembered forever, even by those who are not old enough yet to say the words, 'May the Force be with you.'"
Kennedy then welcomed Billie Lourd, Fisher's only daughter, to the stage.
"She taught me three important things," Lourd said. Calling Leia's famous "Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi" monologue "one thing all mothers should teach their daughters," she then recited the whole thing:
"I learned by knowing her that the most evolved person is seemingly a contradiction: They’re both the strongest and the most vulnerable person in the room. And that was her. That is Leia. Thank you for loving her and carrying on what she stands for. I am beyond grateful," Lourd concluded.
You can read the full transcript of Lourd's touching tribute below:
My mom used to say she never knew where princess Leia ended and Carrie Fisher began. She went from being an unknown actress, the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, to Princess Leia — a character synonymous with the idea of the ultimate strong woman. A soldier. A fighter. A beyond-capable, independent, sensible woman in control of her own destiny. A rebel who resisted the norm. She was imperfect in many ways, but her imperfections and willingness to speak about them are what made her more than perfect.
My mom, like Leia, was never afraid to speak her mind and say things that might have made most people uncomfortable – but not me, and not you. That is why she loved you, because you accepted and embraced all of her; the strong soldier of a woman she was, and also the vulnerable side of her, who often openly fought her own dark side, knowing early on that we all have a dark side of our own, whatever it may be. But she knew it wasn’t about the fight you were fighting, but how you fought it; the way you resisted.
No one could have known what this once-little dream of a movie would eventually become, what it would be to millions worldwide, mostly not her. But in our world, Star Wars ultimately became a religion, our family, and a way of life. And I wanted to be here with all of you because I know that many of you feel the same way. When she surrounded herself with fans at celebrations like this, she never felt more at home. She could spend hours talking to people and learning about their lives, and how Star Wars and Leia touched them in the same way it touched us. If left to her own devices, she would have always been the last person to leave at a convention center, having met and shared a Carrie moment with every single person there.
Nothing about her was a performance. She loved you, she loved these movies, she loved the people she got to make them with, and she loved this incredible character she got to create — this force called Leia.
She taught me three important things: one thing all mothers should teach their daughters: "General Kenobi, years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars. Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire. I regret that I am unable to present my father's request to you in person, but my ship has fallen under attack and I'm afraid my mission to bring you to Alderaan has failed. I have placed information vital to the survival of the Rebellion into the memory systems of this R2 unit. My father will know how to retrieve it. You must see this droid safely delivered to him on Alderaan. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope."
Secondly, she taught me that if life isn't funny, then it’s just true, and that is unacceptable.
And finally, I learned by knowing her that the most evolved person is seemingly a contradiction: They’re both the strongest and the most vulnerable person in the room. And that was her. That is Leia. Thank you for loving her and carrying on what she stands for. I am beyond grateful.
And in case you're not crying enough already, here's the official tribute released during the panel.
May the Force be with you forever, Princess Leia. ❤️