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The Star Wars Novel That Explains This Weird Leia And Tarkin Moment

In the original Star Wars film, subtitled post-release as A New Hope, there's an early scene in which the captured Princess Leia, portrayed by the late Carrie Fisher, is brought before the Empire's Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) aboard the Death Star. "Tarkin, I should have expected to find you holding Vader's leash," Leia says in a character-establishing show of defiance. "I thought I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board."

Despite the fact that Leia doesn't have a British accent during any other part of the movie franchise, she affects one here. The famously candid Fisher previously spoke about the moment in interviews. Apparently, it took place on her first day of filming. "I had a British accent. Who could say those lines?" Fisher told the Daily News in 2015, repeating her famous quip. "What? Say that like an American, and I'll pay you."

During a 2017 tribute to the actress, which took place at that year's Star Wars Celebration following Fisher's death in December 2016, her co-star and on-screen twin brother Mark Hamill said this scene was indicative of her personality. "She also said to me, 'I wish I could go back and do that scene again.' I said, 'What scene?' She goes, 'I really overdid the English accent,'" Hamill said with a laugh (via YouTube). After quoting the line, Hamill revealed that Fisher had explained to him that she was working around English actors and had been hanging with classmates from the London School of Drama. "That's what I loved about her," he said, pointing to her self-consciousness about the way that dialogue sounded.

Fortunately, fan-favorite Star Wars author Claudia Gray has figured out a way to explain away Fisher's "self-conscious" moment as another example of Leia's bravery that "our princess," as Hamill and countless others have called her, would approve of.

Claudia Gray's Bloodline explains the scene perfectly

The small moment comes early in the new expanded universe novel Bloodline, published in 2016 to narrate some of the events that happened in the years before 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Author Claudia Gray weaves a tale in which Princess Leia's dissatisfaction with the New Republic's Senate leads her to volunteer for a mission that investigates an organized crime cartel gaining power in a sector containing the poor, independent world of Ryloth, home of the Twi'lek species (think Jabba the Hutt's dancing girl Oola and Jabba's right-hand alien Bib Fortuna from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, along with Aayla Secura, the Jedi Knight from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones). 

Because the Senate has become so splintered, another Senator from an opposing political party, Ransolm Casterfo of Riosa, volunteers to go with Leia. Though she is the higher-ranking member of the Senate, Leia chooses to visit his office first — against protocol, as C-3P0 points out — in order to catch him off guard. When she encounters him close-up and in person, she is reminded of that long-ago encounter on the Death Star.

"Casterfo had the same sort of aristocratic accent Grand Moff Tarkin had spoken in, the one so many senior Imperial officers affected, the one she'd mocked when she and Tarkin last stood face-to-face. She tried not to let that put her on edge," Gray writes in the novel.

Not only does the single sentence explain why Leia affects that accent when speaking to Tarkin — she was imitating his way of speaking as a way to mock him – but it also explains why so many people from the Empire have British accents throughout the franchise. Since these novels are considered canon in the new Star Wars universe (overwriting the previous Star Wars Expanded Universe), Gray's explanation is the accepted one now. Like the entirety of Star Wars: Rogue One, this explains away a plot discrepancy from the first movie in a natural and believable way.