Ever since she was 19, Carrie Fisher has had to strap in (sometimes literally) for Star Wars‘ wild ride.
And with The Force Awakens premiering Friday, that ride is once again rocketing to light speed.
“I knew that something enormous was likely going to impact my life from this film,” Fisher, 59, says in PEOPLE’s new Star Wars special issue, “and that there was absolutely no way of understanding what that was or was likely to be.”
See exclusive photos, get a first look at new characters and learn more secrets from the cast and crew of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in PEOPLE’s Star Wars collector’s edition, on newsstands now. And for more exclusive Star Wars news, come back to PEOPLE.com every day until it hits theaters Dec. 18
But for Fisher, there are big differences this time around.
Her iconic character, Princess Leia, is now called “General,” reflecting the years of ongoing conflict even after the evil Empire apparently fell at the end of 1983’s Return of the Jedi.
Leia is also seen in the trailers wearing a more sensible outfit as opposed to the famous metal bikini from Return of the Jedi, which she says required a lot more maintenance.
“I started checking for any bounce or slip after takes,” Fisher told PEOPLE in 1983 of working with the crew to shoot in the bikini, which wouldn’t stay on well. “It was, ‘CUT. Hey, how they doin’? The hooters in place?’ ”
Even back then, she was used to protecting Star Wars spoilers. If she had slipped up, “I would have been sentenced to wear that awful hairstyle from the first film.”
The bikini will not be back; that costume was auctioned off in October for $96,000. But The Force Awakens costume designer Michael Kaplan did reveal a bit to PEOPLE.
“Initially we see Leia in a working environment, and [director] J.J. Abrams liked the idea of her dressing for that situation,” he says. “Later on, we do see her looking a bit more regal.”
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A new Leia updo is clear on the exclusive cover of PEOPLE’s special issue. As chief hair designer, Lisa Tomblin told PEOPLE that earlier in the new movie Leia’s hairstyle is conservative, “and then bam! It hits at the end and you suddenly see the sort of iconic Princess Leia look.”
So how wild will Fisher’s ride be this time around? (And do the sidebuns return?)
“The facts aren’t all in yet,” Fisher says. “Can I get back to you on that?”