General Leia Organa — to us, she’s always royalty — is a character with many titles. Senator, diplomat, spy, hero of the Rebellion, head of the Resistance, dispenser of medals, kicker of a whole lot of ass.
But one thing she is not — absolutely, definitively, according to Lucasfilm canon — is a PhD.
The notion that Leia got a space doctorate in her teenage years steamrolled across the news this weekend, thanks to Buzzfeed noticing a tweet that noticed a thing that George Lucas said off-handedly on a DVD commentary in 2004.
As ever, context is everything: Lucas was trying to say he needed a really smart young actor to portray a really smart 19-year-old character, and was riffing on what that might mean. (Like a lot of creatives, Lucas habitually did a lot of riffing; he and his company rarely consider anything definitive until it is on the page or screen.)
But the official Lucasfilm version of Leia’s teenage years is about to be published, and its author confirmed this weekend that it contradicts the notion of Leia getting a doctorate.
Leia, Princess of Alderaan by bestselling author Claudia Gray arrives on September 1. It covers the princess’ life as a teenager, and “the never-before-told story of how young Leia Organa comes to join the rebellion against the evil Empire.”
The plot is still under wraps, but here’s what Gray had to say in response to the PhD idea:
Which makes a lot more sense for the character, and not only because a PhD is a very Earth-bound title. Sure, Leia is smart and well-educated. But she is also a restless righter of wrongs, an action hero who comes of age at a time when the galaxy is in great peril.
An Empire has formed, the democratic check of the Senate is dying, and her father Bail Organa has been fighting the good fight for her entire life. Would Leia want to spend years focused on defending a doctoral thesis when she could be out there delivering the Death Star plans to Obi-Wan Kenobi?
Indeed, Star Wars Rebels shows Leia in the thick of the Rebellion, kicking ass and taking names a couple years before the events of A New Hope:
Moral of the story: don’t believe parenthetical, out-of-context 13-year-old comments on a DVD commentary track when there’s actual canon to contradict it.
I think a key fact to remember in Star Wars fandom is that George Lucas says a LOT of stuff. But nothing is gospel until it’s filmed.
— Dunc (@clubjade) August 6, 2017