The leading lady of Star Wars, Leia Organa Solo has a long and storied history. A Rebel hero in the fight against the Empire, she later organizes and leads the Resistance against the First Order in the Sequel Trilogy. We also learn in The Last Jedi that her Skywalker-inherited powers go beyond being able to communicate with Luke through the Force. Not only can she survive the vacuum of space but other stories imply that she can do much more than that.
In fact, Leia was originally set to take a starring role in The Rise of Skywalker, not just as a general but also as the last Jedi, presumably to complete Rey’s training before her final confrontation with Kylo Ren and the First Order. After Carrie Fisher’s passing, director J.J. Abrams revisited existing, unused footage of Leia from The Force Awakens to bring her back in The Rise of Skywalker, which means we’ll get to see the Princess-turned-General one last time in the concluding chapter of the Skywalker Saga.
Before then, here are 10 facts you may not know about Leia:
1. Leia trained to be queen of Alderaan from a young age.
Leia grew up knowing she would one day take over leadership of her planet of Alderaan. As such, she trained from when she was a teen. Her parents, who made it no secret that she was adopted, carefully chose which aspects of their rule to share with their daughter. After all, Bail and Breha Organa were involved with resistance to the Empire long before the Rebellion revealed itself to the galaxy. Leia’s teenage investigations and her initial forays into making political decisions for herself led to her discovering her parents’ efforts against galactic authority.
She also attended official political training as a member of the Imperial Senate’s junior legislators program. It was during this time that Leia met Amilyn Holdo and first visited the planet Crait, both of which would play a major role in the events of The Last Jedi.
2. A trip to Naboo brought her close to learning the truth about her birth mother.
While Leia’s adoption was not a secret, the fact that Padmé Amidala was her mother was closely guarded. But the Force is strong in Leia, and when she encountered a mural of Padmé in the Naboo capital city of Theed, it reached out to her. The mural’s face turned to look at Leia. At the time, Leia thought it was just an illusion, but she would later learn the truth about her mother’s legacy.
3. Leia began helping the Rebels years before A New Hope.
Another major moment in Leia’s teenage life was one of her first direct interactions with the Rebellion. She makes a cameo on the animated series Rebels in the episode “A Princess on Lothal” when she visits Lothal on a mission to supply more ships to the freedom fighters. She also learns that two of the Lothal Rebels are Jedi in one of her first direct experiences with the Force.
Her political clout is her main weapon in this episode, as she uses her poise and commanding words to cover up the Rebels’ activities. She stays in the Empire’s good graces while ships disappear right under their collective noses.
4. She teamed up with Maz Kanata before Return of the Jedi.
Forces of Destiny, a series of animated shorts focused on the female characters of the saga, gave Leia several opportunities to shine. One of the most important episodes shows how Maz Kanata, who would later give Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber to Rey in The Force Awakens, first met Leia. Maz helps Leia acquire the bounty hunter Boushh’s armor, which Leia wears in Jabba the Hutt’s palace as part of the Rebels’ plan to free Han Solo from the gangster’s carbonite prison.
5. The public learning her father was Darth Vader was a major turning point for her.
In the canon novel Bloodline, which is set years after Return of the Jedi but before The Force Awakens, Leia’s political rival Lady Carise Sindian discovers Leia’s parentage and reveals it to another senator. Right when Leia is about to be elected leader of the New Republic Senate, the information basically ends her political career. Leia confirms her upbringing to her fellow senators and the galaxy. It’s a political scandal, and the fallout is severe. But she eventually turns things around by uncovering a bigger controversy: Carise’s faction is planning to help the First Order.
The New Republic’s trust in Leia is shaken though, and after bringing Carise to justice, she resigns from the Senate and decides to form the Resistance, a paramilitary group which she believes is the only defense the galaxy has against the First Order. Leia is convinced that the squabbling within the ranks of the Senate has rendered the government powerless against a First Order attack. The Force Awakens proves just how right Leia is.
6. Leia was a bit different in early drafts of A New Hope.
The Star Wars saga went through many iterations, as many creative works do. In an early rough draft of A New Hope, Leia was already a princess—a key element of the “space fantasy” tone George Lucas wanted to convey, but she was the 14-year-old daughter of King Kayos and Queen Breha, who ruled the planet of Aquilae. She also had two brothers, Biggs and Windy, whose names were re-used for Luke’s Tattooine friends in the film script.
A later version of the story turned her into Leia Antilles, daughter of Bail Antilles, and she hailed from the planet Organa Major. In the second draft of the script, Leia was the daughter of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru…and Luke’s cousin!
7. Her iconic hairdo in A New Hope was inspired by a Mexican revolutionary.
According to a Time magazine interview, George Lucas wanted Leia’s look to incorporate “something different that wasn’t fashion.” This led him to what he called “a kind of Southwestern Pancho Villa woman revolutionary look … The buns are basically from turn-of-the-century Mexico.” Indeed, women soldiers of the Mexican Revolution, such as Colonel Clara de la Rocha, wore their hair in buns, a style used by the freedom fighting Leia in A New Hope. This is one of many cases where Lucas took inspiration from other cultures, removing certain aesthetics and styles from context to create a look for the movie that would surprise American audiences.
8. Leia became a Jedi in Legends and in non-canon Infinities comics.
While the Leia of the Legends timeline fought most of her battles as a leader of the Rebellion, the New Republic, and later the Galactic Alliance, she eventually also became a Jedi Knight under Luke’s guidance. As a member of the New Jedi Order, Leia was thrust into a Second Galactic Civil War that tested her allegiance to both the Jedi and her son Jacen, who turned to the dark side and became the galaxy’s new Sith ruler, Darth Caedus. (Sound familiar?)
The non-canon Infinities comics, published in the early 2000s, featured some of the most creative storytelling in the franchise. One story asked what would happen if the saga were derailed in a significant way. In Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker dies on Hoth, leaving the door open for Leia to find Yoda and begin her own Jedi journey. Leia wields a purple lightsaber and, like Luke, learns that Vader is her father. The comic ends on a positive note, implying Leia will help lead the Rebellion to victory.
9. She had several Force-sensitive children who became Jedi…and Sith.
Leia’s struggle to protect Ben before the events of The Force Awakens is mirrored by her Legends counterpart, who suffered the loss of not just one child but two. Her youngest son, Anakin, was killed during the bloody Yuuzhan Vong war that destroyed the New Republic and claimed the lives of many Jedi. Later, her daughter, Jaina, was forced to kill Jacen in order to save the galaxy from the new Sith Lord. By the time the continuity was rebooted by Disney, Leia had raised three children to become Jedi and lost two of them in battle, but she’d also gained a granddaughter, Allana, the secret daughter of Jacen Solo.
10. In Legends canon, Anakin begged for Leia’s forgiveness after Return of the Jedi.
In Legends, Leia learning Darth Vader was her father was shortly followed with a visit from the man himself. The spirit of Anakin Skywalker appeared to her right after the events of Return of the Jedi in the novel The Truce at Bakura. As if he’d been thinking about the terms of his redemption ever since he killed Emperor Palpatine to save Luke, Anakin attempted to find moral closure with Leia. He asked her to forgive him for the atrocities he had committed as Vader. Leia did not sugar coat any words, telling Anakin that she could not forgive him: the information was too new to her, the hurt too raw.
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