Remembering Carrie Fisher

The great Carrie Fisher will forever be associated with the Star Wars movies. After all, Fisher played the iconic Princess Leia across six films in the George Lucas-originated franchise. However, there was much more to Fisher than that one role. She was also a best-selling author, a highly paid script doctor – and one hell of a raconteur.

The daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Carrie Fisher was born on 21 October, 1956. She made her screen debut in 1975’s Shampoo opposite Warren Beatty, Goldie Hawn and Julie Christie. She nabbed the role of Princess Leia Organa in 1977’s Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope and it thrust her career into hyperdrive. She starred in a variety of films in roles big and small, appearing in The Blues Brothers (1980), Under The Rainbow (1981), The Man With One Red Shoe (1985), The ‘burbs (1988) When Harry Met Sally (1989) and Scream 3 (2000) amongst many others. She might not have had the big screen success of her co-star Harrison Ford, but she carved out an interesting career in supporting characters. Ultimately though, it was her writing which brought her wit and humour to the fore.

1987’s Postcards From The Edge was a fictionalised account of her relationship with her mother and her battle with drugs and alcohol. She adapted the book into a screenplay which was filmed by director Mike Nichols and starring Meryl Streep, Shirley Mc Laine and Dennis Quaid. Other novels such as Surrender To The Pink, Delusions Of Grandma, Hollywood Moms and The Best Awful There Is followed, while she also penned a selection of memoirs such as Wishful Drinking, Shockaholic and The Princess Diarist. She was tapped by Steven Spielberg to punch-up the dialogue in Hook, a move that kick-started a lucrative career as a script doctor. Fisher would add zest and sparkle to Lethal Weapon 3, Sister Act, Outbreak and The Wedding Singer amongst others.

On the personal front, Carrie Fisher was in several high-profile relationships. She was engaged to Dan Aykroyd and was married to musician Paul Simon from 1983 to 1984 – she also co-wrote tracks on the self-titled debut album by Simon’s son, Harper. The publication of The Princess Diarist in 2016 brought light to the fact that she had an affair with Harrison Ford during the making of Star Wars in 1976. Her daughter Billie Lourd was born in 1992 following a relationship with Hollywood agent Bryan Lourd.

Carrie Fisher struggled with drug addiction throughout her life and she also dealt with mental health issues, being diagnosed as bipolar. In the past, she also received electro-shock therapy. She turned these into positives, becoming a campaigner for mental health and using her life experiences as fuel for her written work. She became attached to her pet dog Gary Fisher, using him as an emotional crutch and the dog became something of a celebrity on the promotional circuit following the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

To generations, Carrie Fisher will be remembered as Princess Leia. Her work in the original trilogy was superb, crafting an iconic character and also having input into how the script played out on screen. Her scenes with Harrison Ford in The Empire Strikes Back are some of the best in the history of cinema, bringing a touch of classic Hollywood screwball comedy into George Lucas’ space opera. She returned to a galaxy far, far away in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Rogue One: a Star Wars Story reprising her iconic role (the latter using computer-generated trickery). The role was small but pivotal and it looked like Leia would be integral in its two sequels. However, Carrie Fisher died at the age of 60 years old after she suffered a heart attack on 23 December 2016 during a flight from London to Los Angeles. She passed away four days later on 27 December. Her mother, actress Debbie Reynolds died of a stroke on 28 December 2016 – just one day after the death of her daughter.

Fisher had already filmed her part in Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi before her death and the role of Leia remained unchanged in that film.  However, Fisher’s scenes in 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker were created using excised footage from the previous film and new material was added so that other actors could interact with her on screen. It was a fitting way of honouring Fisher and Leia and giving closure to one of cinema’s most iconic characters. It’s a great legacy to leave behind. 

Carrie Fisher didn’t play the Hollywood game and she lived a full and sometimes very colourful existence. She was larger than life and she exuded an energy that is unable to fake. That’s why she was so beloved – and that is why Carrie Fisher will always be remembered.