It’s not every day one of your handmade costumes ends up in a movie, worn by a famous actress, and you had no idea it was happening! But here’s the story of how my Slave Leia costume ended up being worn by Kristen Bell in the movie Fanboys. (If you haven’t seen it, it’s free right now on Amazon: Fanboys the Movie.)
The First Slave Leias
I made my first Slave Leia costume in 2001, before cosplay was a big thing and before you could easily get materials and tutorials. I had to figure out how to make it with random household stuff and whatever I could find at JoAnn’s and Home Depot. So the very first costume was made with some questionable materials involving a recycled Priority Mail envelope and the aluminum part of tea light candles.
That was the first costume I sold on eBay, and I realized nobody else was making them at the time. It would be many years before Rubies Costumes bought the rights to the name and started mass producing them. So I decided to start making and selling the costumes, but first I needed to make it a bit more durable. The Slave Leia costume that ended up in the Fanboys movie is one of my earliest ones, where I was still using a cardboard materials for the gold plates and accessories, but I had upgraded the dome parts to furniture sliders.
Hey, Isn’t that Your Costume?
Sometime around 2005ish, I started getting e-mails with pictures of Kristen Bell dressed up as Slave Leia with people asking if it was one of mine. And yes, it was! The ones I make are easy to recognize because they obviously aren’t exact replicas. I made some modifications to make it more comfortable to wear, and also worked with what I had.
By that time I had changed over to using a thermoplastic material for the gold plates and accessories, and googly eyes for all the domed parts. Everything was much sturdier! So I was a bit dismayed to see they had gotten an older version for the movie, and it had obviously gotten banged up during filming. The hair accessories are missing and the bottom gold plate is bent in the middle and on the sides.
We Connected on MySpace
When I saw the costume, and the state that it was in, I started trying to find out how to contact the movie people. I managed to connect with the director, Kyle Newman, on MySpace. (that’s how long ago it was! lol) I asked him about how they got the costume and whether I could send a new one since that one was damaged.
He told me his costume designer found it on eBay, and that filming was done so they didn’t need a new one. So that was it! I just had to wait for the movie to come out to see how much of it made it into the film. If you haven’t seen it, it shows up at the very end! It was pretty exciting to see it in the theater, up on the big screen, and know I made it. Even if it was a little rough looking. I’m sure I’m the only one who was looking at those details anyway!
I went on to keep making and improving the costume, and probably made hundreds over the years. I stopped making them when the market was overrun by creators using molds and making movie quality replicas. I actually still have the materials to make a few more, and I keep saving them thinking, just maybe, I might pull it all out and make one or two more someday.
About the Author
Candy Keane is a digital content creator and long-time cosplayer, most well-known for being on the cover of the Star Wars documentary Jedi Junkies. After making costumes professionally for over a decade, she now writes about about geek culture and mom life, and continues to cosplay for fun, while sharing her love of costumes on Instagram @SewGeekMama. Her first children’s book, I’m Going to My First Comic Convention, was published in 2020 and won a Story Monsters Approved award for Excellence in Literature.