Remembering Carrie Fisher, the Actor and Writer Who Transcended 'Star Wars'
Following her breakout role as Princess Leia in 'Star Wars', she turned her sharp-witted writing to other big Hollywood projects and her own life.
Image: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
Carrie Fisher, the actor and writer who rocketed to global fame as Princess Leia Organa in the original Star Wars trilogy, died today following a heart attack, according to a statement provided to People magazine by a spokesperson for Fisher's family. Fisher was 60 years old. She's survived by her mother, Hollywood actor Debbie Reynolds, as well as her daughter Billie Lourd, her brother Todd Fisher, and her pet bulldog Gary, who became a famous in his own right after public appearances and interviews where he joined Fisher.
Fisher had been hospitalized on December 23 after going into cardiac arrest on a flight from London to Los Angeles, causing worldwide outpourings of concern on social media. The announcement of her death on Tuesday prompted even more widespread expressions of grief and mourning around the world.
For many, it was an even more tragic loss coming after a long and difficult year in which other celebrated entertainers passed away, including David Bowie, Prince, and George Michael just days ago.
Although Fisher was best-known for her role as the iconic Star Wars heroine, a role she reprised in The Force Awakens under a new rank, General Leia, following a 32-year-long interval, she appeared in numerous other films including Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters, and When Harry Met Sally (she has 90 credits to her name on IMDB).
And Fisher was an acclaimed and sharp-witted writer: Her 1987 novel Postcards from the Edge, based in part on her own experiences with drug and alcohol addiction, became a best-seller, and she later wrote the screenplay of the hit 1990 movie of the same name. She wrote and performed her own autobiographical one-woman stage show, Wishful Drinking, which appeared on Broadway, and later adapted it into a book. Earlier this year, she published The Princess Diarist, her account of her rocky experiences filming Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. She wrote several other novels and worked on other major Hollywood screenplays as well, including Sister Act and Hook.
Fisher was known for her frankness and hilarity, frequently critiquing and joking about the sci-fi franchise that ignited her early career, and unabashedly slamming her Princess Leia hairstyle and the metal bikini costume she wore in Return of the Jedi. Her Twitter account was delightfully emoji-filled and lively.
While many fans are taking to the internet to offer their tributes and praise of Fisher's many talents, sardonic humor, and importance in their lives, we also wanted to collect some of Fisher's own words here. Fisher made an indelible and lasting impact on culture and the arts, and the world is clearly better and richer for it.
Discussing her drug use in 1987 interview with the New York Times about Postcards from the Edge:
"Why drugs? They were there. I wanted to be accepted by people who did drugs. I thought I was too excited. I had this energy. Call it manic. Drugs put me where I perceived everyone else to be. They made me relax.''
She laughed. ''They made me comatose. Eventually, they eroded whatever coping skill I had. I let the drugs do the walking. The scariest thing Belushi ever said to me was, 'You're like me.' And then he died.''
On criticism in the internet era, in a 2016 interview with NPR's All Things Considered hosted by Kelly McEvers:
FISHER: And I knew that it was a heartbreaking - you know, that show business is a heartbreaking career.
MCEVERS: What do you mean?
FISHER: The rejection - you know, the criticism, especially now with the internet. You know, it used to be that you're your own worst enemy - no longer. The internet is. And they say really, really vicious things about you based in some sort of truth. So it's painful. And eventually it's going to dump you. Eventually it's going to say, you look old. You look fat. It's over. And there's no escaping it. And you pick to go in it. So that's what you get to do. And you can't complain about it, or people will say to you, you wanted to be in show business. And I get to say, did I?
On sexism and relationships with men in Hollywood in a 1994 interview with the LA Times.
Q: You've been so unstinting in condemning Hollywood for making it difficult to achieve an equal relationship--
CF:--and if you're more powerful than they are you're emasculating them. And I'm not revising that, I only hope I'm wrong. But also, I do have this big loud life and so the other person has to crawl in there and find some peace.
On the metal bikini Princess Leia wore in Return of the Jedi, in a 1999 essay for Newsweek.
What do I remember from making the movies? I remember that iron bikini I wore in "Episode VI": what supermodels will eventually wear in the seventh ring of hell. I was lying next to Jabba the Hutt, in the third film—the one I can't remember the name of. (I keep wanting to call it "Rebel Without a Cause.") The actor who played Boba Fett stood behind me while I was wearing the bikini, and he could see all the way to Florida. My mother was always the girl next door. I wasn't quite girl-next-door material; I was the girl-next-dogstar, the one in the titanium thong.
On losing weight to film the Star Wars movies, including The Force Awakens in a November 2016 interview on The Ellen Show:
Well, they like to hire part of me, so I have to get rid of the part they don't want. So when I'm hired for Star Wars, every time, they have hired about, like three-quarters the size that I am.
An NPR excerpt from Wishful Drinking, her 2008 memoir, discussing the infamous affair that drove apart her parents, actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher:
Alright, so up at the top left of the chart, we have Eddie and Debbie. In the '50s they were known as "America's Sweethearts." Now if you are too young to relate to any of this, try and think of it this way: think of Eddie as Brad Pitt and Debbie as Jennifer Aniston and Elizabeth as Angelina Jolie. Does that help?
All right, so Eddie consoles Elizabeth with his penis, Elizabeth takes a movie in Rome—a big budget film called Cleopatra and she meets her costar Richard Burton, so goodbye, Eddie, hello, Richard.
To paraphrase The Onion—and when I say paraphrase, I mean basically steal one of their headlines and change one word in an attempt to make it my own—you haven't lived vicariously until you've done it through me.
Some other Fisher gems posted on Twitter:
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