Carrie Fisher: True Stories Of The Life And Loves Of Princess Leia
Actress Carrie Fisher poses on the beach for Star Wars in October 1983 At Stinson Beach, California. (Photo by Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images)
Brash and witty, always one step ahead of everyone in the room, Carrie Fisher was one of those celebrities who made you think that you could have a conversation with them at a party. Sure, she was Princess Leia in Star Wars, she was the best part about When Harry Met Sally and her mother and daughter (Debbie Reynolds and Billie Lourd) are also very famous, but Carrie Fisher always felt like she didn’t care about the pomp and circumstance of Hollywood.
Born October 21, 1956 to Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Carrie grew up in the lap of luxury but she also had a front row seat for the way that celebrity can ruin a life. In her early years she ran from the screen before she embraced it, and after she became one of the most famous people on the planet she used her celebrity to make interesting and gutsy choices.
When she passed away in 2016 at the age of 60 she left behind a legacy that was so much more than gold bikini and a pair of cinnamon roll hair buns. She She showed us that you don’t have to play by the rules to be successful, and that life was something to be lived.
She didn't want to be an actor
Growing up as the child of ultra-famous actor-singers Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Carrie knew how stardom could corrode relationships and ruin lives. She watched it happen from an early age and did her best to shy away from the spotlight even when he mother brought her onstage. She had a wonderful voice but never took lessons, and she never used her famous parents to get preferential treatment in the industry.
As a young person surrounded by the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, Carrie Fisher didn’t make moves to become a starlet. It wasn’t until she was 17 that she decided to give acting a try. In 1973, she enrolled in the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. She had dropped out of high school, and this would be her last round of formal education. Two years after her enrollment she went on an audition that changed her life forever.
Star Wars came out of nowhere
Christmas 1975 brought a spectacular gift to Carrie Fisher - she just had to take a trip to a galaxy far, far away. She auditioned for George Lucas in 1975, beating out actresses who were younger or who had a more royal air about them. Even when she was a teen Fisher was warm, but she had an attitude that said, “Don’t mess with me.” Exactly what you want in a rebel princess.
When Fisher started filming Star Wars she was the youngest person on set by a few years. She was snarky and fearless, she was doe-eyed but nowhere near as naive as she looked. Most of all she was cool. Even when she called Han Solo a “scruffy-looking nerf herder,” she sounded hip. While on set Fisher engaged in an affair with co-star Harrison Ford.
He was nearly two decades older than her -- and married, at the time -- but Fisher didn’t talk about it until the release of her Star Wars memoir The Princess Diaries. Ford only said that the affair happened but he didn’t respond beyond that when he was asked about it directly.
Being Princess Leia took its toll on Fisher
It’s not easy being in charge of the rebellion and having to look good. Fisher was never tight lipped about her thoughts on the way she was forced into strange outfits and put in precarious positions, she saved her most rancorous ire for that golden bikini from Return of the Jedi. The outfit had zero give which forced Fisher to be more stoic than she would normally be during a scene. She told NPR:
When [director George Lucas] showed me the outfit, I thought he was kidding and it made me very nervous. I had to sit very straight because I couldn't have lines on my sides, like little creases. No creases were allowed, so I had to sit very, very rigid straight.
In 1980s she came into her own
Princess Leia may be Carrie Fisher’s most well known role, but it’s not the one that defines her. In the 1980s she made the move to smaller roles like Hannah and Her Sisters, The ‘Burbs, and When Harry Met Sally as she dealt with drug addiction and stints in rehab and a mental institution. At 28 she was diagnosed as bipolar, an illness that she advocated for while dealing with the only way she knew how - with her cutting wit. She once said:
I’m actually in the Abnormal Psychology textbook. Obviously my family is so proud. Keep in mind though, I’m a PEZ dispenser and I’m in the Abnormal Psychology textbook. Who says you can’t have it all?
Fisher spent her entire life going through high highs and very low lows. Her brain was usually going a mile a minute, and that only waned when she was self medicating. Her mania-fueled addiction played its part in destroying her relationship with Paul Simon, and it also kept her from having a perfect career. She wasn’t embarrassed of her mental illness, instead she embraced it. She said:
I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on. Better me than you.
She transitioned to writing in the ‘80s and ‘90s
In 1987, Carrie Fisher wrote her first book, Postcards From the Edge. The book was an autobiographical first novel that told the story of a recovering addict living in the shadow of her self involved, extremely famous mother. This was the first of many memoirs, essay collections, and novels - many of which were New York Times best sellers.
She wasn’t just writing long form autobiographical work -- a lot of her work at the time was spent as an uncredited script doctor on films like Outbreak, The Wedding Singer, and Lethal Weapon 3. Each film that featured her writing crackled with her brash wit.
She tried marriage one last time
When she wasn’t working as a script doctor Fisher was giving marriage another shot with Bryan Lourd, a hot agent around town. They were together for three years and in that time she gave birth to her daughter Billie. Carrie did her best to keep her daughter out of the spotlight until she followed her mother in the family business. Their relationship seemed great, but Fisher's marriage didn’t work out, and Bryan Lourd left her after coming out as gay. Fisher said:
He told me later that I had turned him gay by taking codeine again. And I said, ‘You know, I never read that warning on the label.’
She went out on top
It’s hard to know exactly what Carrie Fisher was thinking as she entered into the 2010s, but when it was announced that J.J. Abrams was helming a new Star Wars trilogy Fisher knew that something was about to happen to her. She told People in 2015:
I knew that something enormous was likely going to impact my life from this film and that there was absolutely no way of understanding what that was or was likely to be.
While Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford returned to series as well, fans were most excited about Fisher. She made more than a cameo in the series, with The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi basically being built around her. With another Star Wars series under her belt Fisher was back on top. On December 27, 2016, Fisher suffered a heart attack on a plane returning from London. Her life was short, but she lived every second of it.
Tags: Carrie Fisher | Childhood Crushes | Star Wars
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