Princess Leia’s top 20 bravest moments

11 of 20

Still from The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Image is a screengrab via 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm

11. The moment Han Solo is frozen

After being caught on Lando Calrissian’s base, the Imperial forces decide to split up the Rebel clique and punish them individually. As a kid, I was always scared of the carbonite freezing process; as an adult, I actually haven’t changed a bit in that respect.

The idea behind carbonite freezing is that it’s a risky procedure that could kill its subjects — but if a subject does not die in the freezing process then they remain perfectly suspended until free, at which point they would have to deal with atrophied muscles and temporary blindness.

In the moment that this happens, we finally see Leia at a real dead end — the man she loves has no way out. He has to face his fate. In that brief exchange before his freezing, she lets herself be vulnerable and admits to Han Solo that she loves him (to which he famously replies, “I know,” a response that perturbs me to this day). This kind of vulnerability, made more pointed by the music, is great, and so valuable in a strong character like Leia. It’s made all the more poignant by her strong, unemotional moments that reoccur throughout the original trilogy.