I just had the strangest day of my life.
It was day three of my fifth year at Comic-Con, and it was a weird one from the get go.
I watched Will Forte draw a penis on an inflatable ball at The Last Man on Earth panel, and I witnessed the cast of The Flash start a drum circle. Arrow's David Ramsey told me I had beautiful eyes (which yes, I am telling everyone). I watched Carrie Fisher's daughter Billie Lourd, who's now starring in Fox's Scream Queens, put on a pair of Princess Leia buns. Pasties came up more than once in various ways. I live-tweeted Outlander's Sam Heughan dressing up as a pirate (finally!), and I forgot to eat for most of the day, which is weird enough in itself.
Then, I decided to attend the Scream Queens screening we happened to have a pass for, and ended up having the coolest, most surreal hour of my life, sitting next to Princess Leia herself.
Yes, Carrie Fisher and I watched Scream Queens together, and no, I will never get over it.
Now, I will admit right up front: I am not the biggest Star Wars fan there is, but I am a human who lives in this world, and that means that I will freak out at seeing—and especially sitting next to—one of its biggest stars as she watches her daughter make her television debut.
As for that television debut, that pilot was fantastic, hilarious, terrifying, and downright awesome, as far as I could tell. It's actually really hard to pay attention when Princess Leia is sitting next to you, occasionally leaning over to ask you questions you can't answer. But I'll get to that.
I was the first person with a reserved seating pass to arrive, so I claimed the reserved seat closest to the screen. I was just thinking this was going to be a casual viewing of a show I was excited for, no big deal, totally normal. I had been to screenings before. Whatever. I made small talk with the guy next to me, and then we both noticed the woman walk in front of us and sit down two seats away from my new seat friend (whose name I never learned, despite the strangest shared experience ever).
Seat friend and I both stared straight ahead for probably thirty seconds, until he whispered, "I think other people are starting to realize what we have both realized."
I nodded at this odd but efficient way of acknowledging what was happening, silently thanking this guy for confirming that the woman was, in fact, Carrie Fisher, since I am notoriously bad at recognizing famous people.
Slowly but surely, fans started approaching. They quietly and politely asked Carrie for a picture, and she was incredibly nice to every single one of them. She signed their badges and took selfies, and wasn't overly enthused about it, but she was obviously expecting this. She's used to this. This is her whole life.
I immediately informed literally everyone I could think of, via my phone, that I was sitting three seats away from Carrie Fisher. Then, my seat friend offered up his seat so that Carrie could be closer to the screen. I also offered her my seat, but she said she was fine with the one next to me. Right next to me. As in, her leg occasionally brushed my leg when she moved. Carrie Fisher became my new seat friend.
She said something to me first, but I forget what it was. All I could think of was that earlier in the day, her daughter and the rest of the Scream Queens cast had visited our E! interview space, and had taken pictures with props. Billie had chosen the Princess Leia buns, and I suddenly got to be the one to show Carrie Fisher a picture of her daughter emulating her most famous role. (See above.)
Her face actually lit up when I told her about the picture, but fell a bit when I showed it to her, because she thought she was just wearing the ear muffs she wears in the show (don't ask, because I really couldn't tell you). I tried to explain, but it quickly became clear that a) people were not afraid of interrupting our conversation to ask for pictures with her and b) I was not going to be able to explain the cart of silly props we had provided for silly photos. It was useless. I gave up.
I could not make Carrie Fisher understand how very cool that picture was.
She got up for a minute to talk to a friend, but said, "I'll be back," before she left. Princess Leia dropped a Terminator line, and I'm so grateful because I had so many more people to text and so many more Facebook statuses to overreact on before the show started. I was shamelessly bragging, and I still am, but I also felt this very deep need to share this with as many people as possible. After all, how often do you get to sit next to one of the most beloved movie stars in the world?
I hardly cared when Jamie Lee Curtis burst through a curtain to shout the F-word into a microphone while introducing the cast, including Emma Roberts, Lea Michele, Abigail Breslin, Keke Palmer, Skyler Samuels, and Billie Lourd. After a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday to Billie from the entire room (since her birthday is next week), the show finally started, and I tried very hard to not think about sitting next to Carrie Fisher.
And then I promptly spent a whole hour only thinking about how I was sitting next to Carrie Fisher. The screen was at a strange angle, and if I moved too much, I would have blocked her view. I've never sat so stiffly in my entire life, because I did not want to ruin or even affect Carrie Fisher's first viewing of her daughter's first TV show.
Fifteen minutes into the show, she leaned towards me.
"Who is that girl?" Carrie Fisher whispered to me.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
I am not even slightly exaggerating when I say every name in the entire world suddenly dropped out of my brain. I knew it started with an S, but that was all I had. I had to tell Carrie Fisher that I did not know. I did know at some point, but in that moment, I knew absolutely nothing at all except for the fact that I was letting Carrie Fisher down, for a second time.
A few minutes later, I suddenly remembered the name.
"It's Skyler Samuels," I whispered to Carrie Fisher.
"What's she from?" Carrie Fisher whispered back.
Princess Leia got me again. I had no idea. Surely she was from something, but in this moment, I couldn't have even made something up.
"I think she's kind of new," I said, just because I needed something to say.
For the record, Skyler Samuels is known for The Nine Lives of Chloe King and American Horror Story (as well as three episodes of The Wizards of Waverly Place), but I did not know that at the time. Even if I did, I would have forgotten it as soon as Carrie Fisher asked me to remember it.
For the rest of the show, I noticed every time she laughed, or guffawed, mostly just because she was sort of turned towards me to see the screen, so she was laughing in my ear.
I was also very aware of every time I, a giant chicken, covered my face to avoid seeing someone else's face falling off, because I was doing so right in front of Carrie Fisher's face. It was stressful, to be quite honest with you.
The screening ended suddenly with a bit of a glitch, and then the screen went blank.
"Is that the end of it?" she asked me.
Yet again, I did not know, but luckily the lights came up and I was saved.
"I guess it is," I said to Carrie Fisher.
I asked if she had seen any of it before, and she said she hadn't, but she had read the script and loved it. I knew I would probably not be doing my job as a television journalist if I didn't ask for some quotes on the record, and she was happy to oblige.
"I thought it was great, I really did," she said. "It's very hard to make horror funny, and funny horror. It does both, and very well."
She also, adorably, gushed about her daughter, who plays one of Emma Roberts' minions.
"But I think it was really Billie Lourd," she said, smiling.
"She was great!" I agreed.
"She was great. I love her voice on camera."
And that was that, because we were interrupted by someone wanting a picture. A crowd had gathered around us during our 20 second interview and they were done being patient.
Carrie told them she didn't have a lot of time because she had to go see her daughter, but she would take a picture or two. She then turned and shook my hand, and I wished her a good rest of her evening.
It took all the will power I had to avoid asking her for a selfie, just because of all the other people who also wanted selfies but who didn't get to sit next to her for the past hour.
I walked out of there nearly bursting with excitement, wanting to tell every single person I saw, and already regretting my decision to not ask for a picture.
On one hand, this was just a mother supporting her daughter, just as most mothers would. She's just a normal human being who wonders where actors are from and laughs at Ryan Murphy jokes.
On the other hand, this was also one of the stars of one of the most famous and successful movie franchises in the entire world, watching her daughter act in one of the fall's most highly anticipated shows, just a day after appearing in front of thousands of screaming fans, so yeah. I was excited. I'm still excited. I will always be excited about this.
Plus, that was a truly enjoyable pilot, and I would have been perfectly content to watch several more hours of it, even if I had to do it without Princess Leia sitting next to me, asking me who that girl is.
Strangely enough, I can't remember if I ever told her who this girl is. Somehow my name just never came up.
So, in case you ever read this, Carrie Fisher, my name is Lauren, and it was an absolute (if stressful) pleasure to meet you.
Scream Queens will air on Fox this fall.