You can't celebrate the 40-year legacy of "Star Wars" without acknowledging Carrie Fisher.
George Lucas, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, and Fisher's daughter, Billie Lourd, came out for the 40th anniversary Star Wars Celebration panel in Orlando Thursday to pay tribute to the late actress, who passed away in December 2016.
"I've said many times now that she really is a modern woman, and she isn't just a woman that you put guys clothes on her and she becomes a hero," a choked-up Lucas said. "She was a princess, she was a senator, she played a part that was very smart." He added, "She was the boss; it was her role."
Lucas explained that he wanted someone young to play the role of Princess Leia, and Fisher dazzled the "Star Wars" creator with her strength, smarts, humor, and her bold and tough personality.
"There really wasn't much of a question," Lucas revealed. "They're one in a billion, and for this particular part, she was absolutely perfect."
Even though "she wore a dress through the whole thing," Lucas called her "the toughest one of the group."
"She'll always be the princess who took command and never backed down -- she never was in jeopardy, she was always helping the other guys get out of the messes they created," he concluded. "We'll all love her forever and ever."
For Kennedy, "there was no greater honor" than working with Fisher. "She will be remembered forever, even by those who are not old enough to say the words 'May the Force be with you.'" Watch the video tribute below:Perhaps the most emotional moment was when Lourd, dressed as in a very Leia-esque white dress, took center stage. She recalled of her mother: "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 was 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 also openly fought her own dark side."
As she paused occasionally to compose herself, she added: "In our world, 'Star Wars' ultimately became our religion, our family, and our way of life, and I wanted to be here with all of you because I know that many of you feel the same way."
Fans stood up in applause as Lourd finished by reciting Leia's famous plea to Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Fans held back tears as the panel concluded, first with a video montage of behind-the-scenes footage of Fisher, intercut with clips from various interviews and convention appearances.
The panel ended with a surprise appearance by "Star Wars" composer John Williams leading the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra in a live performance of "Leia's Theme."
The Imperial Forces -- under orders from cruel Darth Vader (David Prowse) -- hold Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) hostage, in their efforts to quell the rebellion against the Galactic Empire. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford), captain of the Millennium Falcon, work together with the companionable droid duo R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) to rescue the beautiful princess, help the Rebel Alliance, and restore freedom and justice to the Galaxy. Read More