Billie Lourd made a surprise appearance at the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando Thursday. The actress, who appeared alongside her late mother Carrie Fisher in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, was introduced by George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy.
Lourd wore a custom Tom Ford dress that paid homage to Princess Leia. "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..." she said. "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, wasn't ever afraid to speak her mind and say things that might have made most people uncomfortable, but not me and not you. That was why she loved you, because you accepted and embraced all of her."
"She loved you. She loved these movies. And she loved this force called Leia," Lourd, 24, said. "It's not about what you were fighting—it's how you fought it. How you resisted."
"In our world, Star Wars became a religion and a way of life," she said during the live-streamed event. "I wanted to be here with you because I know you feel the same way."
The actress shared the three biggest lessons Fisher taught her—the first referencing Princess Leia's "You're my only hope" speech from 1977's Star Wars: A New Hope. "Secondly, she taught me that if life isn't funny then it's just true, and that is unacceptable," the Scream Queens actress said. "And finally, she taught me by her own example, that the most evolved person is seemingly a contradiction—they are both the strongest and the most vulnerable person in the room. And that was her. That is Leia."
Clips of Fisher, both in character and on the set of the films, then played on a big screen.
Lucas spoke fondly of Fisher just before Lourd took the stage. "She was a princess. She was a senator. She played a part that was very smart. And she had to hold her own against two big lugs—goofballs—who were screwing everything up. But, she was the boss; it was her war. When I cast it, I said, 'I really want somebody young to play the part.'...When Carrie came in, she was that character," Lucas said. "She was very strong, very smart, very funny, very bold, very tough. There really wasn't much of a question."
"There are not very many people like her," the franchise's creator continued. "There's one in a billion. For this particular part, it was absolutely perfect because she could hold her own against [the guys]. She wore a dress through the whole thing, but she was toughest one of the group. 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. She kept the whole group going."
"She was brilliant, and obviously well all miss her. But she'll always be a princess who took command and never backed down, never was in jeopardy. She was always helping the other guys get out of the messes they created. We'll all love her forever and ever."
Kennedy echoed Lucas' comments, saying, "I think that there was no greater honor than that of working with the late, truly great Carrie Fisher. She was unlike anyone you've known. Unlike anyone in this room..."
After Lourd left the stage and the video montage ended, John Williams conducted the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, who performed a medley of songs from the film series.