Living in Idaho, we very rarely have Star Wars cast members stop by and visit. Aside from bumping into actor Harrison Ford at Macy’s or his favorite restaurant in Idaho Falls, the chances of meeting a Star Wars actor in the Gem State are about as good as finding an Ewok on Hoth. So when Salt Lake Comic Con announced that they were bringing actress Carrie Fisher to Fan Experience in Utah, I had to go. The opportunity to meet Princess Leia was too much to pass up.
If you have never been to a comic book convention, it’s basically a large amount of people milling about, some wearing costumes of their favorite genre characters, some not. Lots of booths selling everything from artwork to clothing to comics to kitty ears. And lines, lots and lots of lines. Lines for celebrity autographs, lines for celebrity pictures, lines for panels and workshops, lines for the bathroom. Attending a convention is really about line management. Scheduling your day at the Con by arranging which line you want to stand in and for how long.
We knew that the line to get a picture with Carrie Fisher was going to be one of the bigger lines. Our little group headed to the staging area about an hour before the pictures were to take place and a line had already started. We jumped in line and were pleased to find out that we were fourth in line, we had a good feeling about it. Around 45 minutes later, a “line organizer” (at least that’s what I thought it said on their badge) said that we needed to make two lines. One line was for the VIPs and the other was for the general admission people. Our group fell into the general admission category. The good news was that two people ahead of us were VIPs, so when they moved into the new line, we were second in line. That was about the only bright spot because hundreds of people moved into the VIP line.
My previous experience with VIP and general admission lines was that the “line organizer” would let three VIPs through for every one general admission, a three to one ratio. I passed this information along to those around me to try and lift the morale of the general admission line. That’s when the trap door over the Rancor pit opened. When it was time to begin taking pictures with Carrie Fisher, the line organizer let all, I repeat, all of the VIPs through first. With each passing person, it felt like another Rebel ship was shot down while attacking the Death Star, our chances of meeting Carrie Fisher was dwindling.
After all of the VIPs were ushered through, the general admission line began to move. As we rounded the corner behind the black pipe and drape, we had the wind taken from our sails a second time as the original one line that had become two had now become one again. Except this time, we were hundreds of people away from meeting Carrie Fisher. One nice thing about spending time in a line que with people of the same interests (Star Wars) is that it is easy to strike up a conversation. We talked to people around us, joked about the line situation and speculated about what the future Star Wars movies would entail.
I didn’t know what to expect in meeting Carrie Fisher. My boss at work said, “You realize she doesn’t look like what she did in ‘Return of the Jedi’ right?” Thanks for that. But what would she be like to talk to? Would she engage in a witty repartee about giant slug-like gang lords or the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Rebel Leaders? What would I say to her that would make my meeting with her stand out? What should I not say to avoid having the memory tarnished for the rest of my life? I was at a blank.
Finally, our group made it through the inner sanctum, past the black drape and there she was, Princess Leia. Even with the passing of time, I could still see the fiery spark in her eyes that she had back in 1977. Two chairs were set up in front of the official photographer. One for Carrie and one for her French Bulldog Gary. Fans would gather around the Star Wars actress and have their picture taken and then be shuttled off. As we got closer to having our picture taken with her, Carrie got off her chair and said that her dog was getting a little figgity. She looked at us and asked if it was okay if she took her dog out for a bit. “You’re Princess Leia, you can do anything you want,” but what I really said was, “uh-huh.”
About ten minutes later, Carrie and Gary re-entered the photograph area and she asked if the two chairs could be moved. Carrie said that her back was acting up and would it be okay if she just sat on the floor to have the pictures taken. “You’re Princess Leia, you can do anything you want” was once again the phrase that ran though my mind and once again I said, “uh-huh.”
As our group gathered around her to have the picture taken, she thanked us for being patient and said, “Let’s do something creative,” and she leaned her head against my wife’s shoulder. The camera lights flashed as the picture was taken and our moment with Carrie Fisher was captured forever.
That was the time I met Princess Leia.