NEW YORK/CHICAGO (Reuters) - Fans of Hollywood actress Carrie Fisher said they were saddened that the "Star Wars" star was hospitalized but also inspired by the appearance of a young Princess Leia in the most recent installment of the cinematic space saga.
Fisher, 60, suffered heart problems during a flight on Friday from London to Los Angeles, and as of Saturday was in critical condition and undergoing treatment in the intensive care unit of an L.A. hospital, her brother Todd Fisher said.
Todd Fisher did not respond to requests for an update to her condition on Sunday, and a spokeswoman for the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center has declined to comment, citing patient confidentiality laws.
After celebrity friends and co-stars wished her well on Saturday, many fans went to a Christmas Day screening of "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," in which a digital replica of the young Princess Leia appears on screen at the end.
"It's kind of surreal that this movie is coming out now and to think of Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia having a heart attack, it's pretty terrifying," Mike Rosenberg, 28, who works in finance, said at a Times Square cinema. "It's Christmas Day. I'm sure everyone has her in their heart today."
The audience gasped when seeing Princess Leia, said Heather Kemp, a 44-yer-old attorney who had just seen "Rogue One" in a Times Square cinema."It was sad and it was inspiring at the same time," Kemp said. "Whenever you see any of the characters like C3PO and R2D2, there were reactions. But yeah, definitely for her."
The Princess Leia character, who was courageous and a capable fighter as well as glamorous, was a role model for Kemp when she first saw the original movie.
"She's spunky," Kemp said.
At least one fan in the Chicago suburb of Skokie expressed optimism for Fisher by attributing Leia-like abilities to the actress.
"She's a warrior and will pull through," said Alexa Mullally, 38. "I grew up watching Star Wars and adored Princess Leia."
At another screening in Evanston, Gary Mendel, 50, summed up the feelings of many fans who saw a long list of beloved celebrities die in 2016.
"I'm hoping 2016 took enough of our idols and will let her recover," Mendel said.
Fisher appeared as Leia in the original trilogy from 1977 to 1983 and reprised the role last year in Disney's reboot of the "Star Wars" franchise, "The Force Awakens," when the character carried the title of General Leia Organa in the rebel alliance.
Reporting by Daniel Trotta in New York and Bob Chiarito in Chicago; Editing by Sandra Maler