There is probably nothing we can type in a tribute that won’t have already been said of the immortal Princess Leia, but then again, how could we not write one.
Carrie Frances Fisher was born in Beverly Hills on October 21 1956. The daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds, Carrie was born into Hollywood royalty. Her acting debut came in the 1975 comedy Shampoo, but it was her casting as Princess Leia Organa in Star Wars in 1977 that projected her into the international spotlight and made her an icon overnight.
Carrie had a brief marriage to singer Paul Simon and has a daughter, Billie Lourd, with talent agent Bryan Lourd. Billie, a regular star of the US comedy-horror series The Scream Queens also appeared in The Force Awakens as Lieutenant Connix, ensuring that Carrie’s Star Wars on screen legacy will last a little longer at least (her role continuing into Episode VIII).
The 1980s saw her revise her role as Princess Leia in The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi. However she also starred in another cult movie in the form of The Blues Brothers as Jake’s scorned ex-lover (the scene in which she fires a bazooka at John Belushi and Dan Akroyd has to be up there as one of the best non-Star Wars moments of 1980s cinema!).
Further roles in When Harry Met Sally, Drop Dead Fred and Hook revealed another talent of Carrie’s: that of script doctoring. It has now been revealed that, even at 22, in what went on to become A New Hope, Carrie would rewrite the Leia’s lines for the better in the movie. Her talent for script doctoring, a little known but highly valuable role in Hollywood, saw Carrie work on such Hollywood hits as Hook, The Wedding Singer, Outbreak, Sister Act, The River Wild and the Star Wars prequels.
Her semi-autobiographical first novel Postcards from the Edge was adapted into a 1990 movie starring Meryl Streep. It showcased, in an honesty rarely seen in Hollywood, Carrie’s battle with addiction. It was this openness about both her various addictions and her bipolar that for many elevated her beyond the status that even playing Princess Leia had given her amongst the Star Wars fandom.
Carrie went on to write 4 novels and 3 memoirs, including the Princess Diarist which she had been promoting in the run-up to her untimely death. The calibre of her talent for writing was often overshadowed by her Princess Leia fame but three of Carrie’s books made the New York Times bestseller list including Wishful Drinking which she adapted from her one-woman Broadway show.
With every award speech and TV interview she willingly exposed herself to levels few would be prepared to. Her quick wit and comfort with every element of herself (which is something we should perhaps all have a little more of) she controlled each situation whilst presenting her humble, humorist, down-to-earth self in a way that was truly infectious. One perfect such example came when presenting George Lucas a lifetime achievement award in 2005, she quipped that George had owned the rights to her likeness for so long that she had to send George a cheque for a couple of bucks each time she looked in the mirror. Carrie roasted George in a manner that only she could.
At Star Wars Celebrations her chemistry with Mark Hammill was always unrivalled, other than that of her chemistry with her beloved dog Gary, and those lucky enough to watch her interviews were presented with a Star Wars experience like no other.
Her later career saw her make a string of minor appearances in various TV shows and movies, in many of which she played herself. Her repeat role as Angela in Family Guy saw her appear in their brilliant adaption of the original Star Wars trilogy where she starred as Mon Mothma alongside Alex Borstein (who voices Lois Griffin) who was playing Princess Leia.
Carrie returned to much acclaim in The Force Awakens, and perhaps it is here that one of the most poignant interchanges about her character are ever uttered, firstly by Lon San Tekka who states “to me she is royalty” and then by Poe who replies, “Well, she certainly is that”.
Whilst she may have failed to secure more roles akin to the profile that of Star Wars, perhaps ultimately that was to be fitting. For us here at Channel Star Wars, and scores of other Star Wars fans worldwide, she was the epitome of all things that made Star Wars great: its approachability, its lack of perfection and the openness of the relationship between the cast and fans, which is unlike anything else in the world of popular culture. She didn’t just play Princess Leia, she was, and forever will be, our Princess.
So farewell Princess Carrie, may the force be with you, always.
Carrie Frances Fisher, 1956-2016.