It may be hard for many to look at Carrie Fisher and not instantly think of her with her famous hair buns and flowing white garb, but if she had her way, she would have never donned that iconic outfit. Never one to censor herself, Carrie opened up in both her 2008 memoir "Wishful Drinking" and to Matt Lauer on "The Today Show" that she had no idea what she was signing up for when accepting the role of Princess Leia at age 19. Yet the movie became a mega hit, and a mega headache for Carrie. "I would never have done it. All I did when I was really famous was wait for it to end." Despite this, she was adamant that she doesn't resent the role either saying, "People want me to say that I'm sick of playing Leia and that it ruined my life. If my life was that easy to ruin, it deserved to be ruined."
While she may be best known for her work in front of the camera, this space princess was definitely no damsel in distress behind the camera either. In fact, one of her biggest unsung skills was being one of Hollywood's most notable script doctors. Often an uncredited role, Carrie was hired time and time again to diagnose issues in existing scripts and to suggest solutions to make them better. Her resume of scripts she helped improve is more than impressive, including "Hook" (1991), "Sister Act" (1992), "Lethal Weapon 3" (1992) and "The Wedding Singer" (1998). Unfortunately, not every movie can be saved, as her work on all three Star Wars prequels couldn't save it from bad acting. Eventually Carrie moved away from the business, telling Newsweek in 2008 that the process had changed. Nowadays to be considered for the gig, you have to submit your notes and ideas ahead of time, and the studio could use your suggestions and not even hire you. Carrie wasn't into "free work," or what she liked to call "life-wasting events."
In between films for her most famous gig as Princess Leia, the space royalty took a trip back to Earth to star as Jake's vengeful ex-lover in the 1980's film "The Blues Brothers." While on set her co-star, the late and great John Belushi, set her up with her other co-star Dan Aykroyd, whom she affectionately called "Danny." Yet after a mishap involving Brussel sprouts, the two took the relationship up a notch. "I almost choked on some kind of vegetable that I shouldn't have been eating: Brussels sprouts!" Fisher explained. "So he had to give me the Heimlich maneuver. He saved my life, and then he asked me to marry him. And I thought... wow, what if that happens again? I should probably marry him." Making light of the situation, she added, "When I was going to have the kissing scene with John, he went around the set singing 'My Best Friend's Girl.'"
Referring to her as his "American Mom," James Blunt owes a lot to Carrie Fisher. When the "You're Beautiful" singer arrived in the States to record his first album, he had virtually no money and nowhere to go. Yet as luck would have it, Blunt had met Fisher the year prior in London as his then girlfriend was a friend of the Fisher family. Having formed an instant friendship, Carrie offered her home to Blunt while he was working to get his music career off the ground. But of course, she offered so much more than just a warm bed to sleep in. "Carrie fed me soup, showed me old movies and put a cardboard figure of her in Star Wars outside my room to protect me." Beyond that, Fisher actually came up with the title for his first album, "Back to Bedlam," that he largely recorded in her bathroom. "I recorded the album in the bathroom because she had a piano there, and we didn't have the budget to buy one or hire a studio," Blunt has said. "I never asked her why she had it in the bathroom."
You probably know that Carrie Fisher had an amazing sense of humor, but apparently so does Steven Spielberg. While filming "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," the famed director enlisted the help of Ford's former co-star Fisher along with Barbra Streisand of all people to pull a practical joke on his star. In the middle of shooting the scene where Indy is captured by the Thuggee, all of a sudden Streisand appears dressed up as a dominatrix and begins to whip him, shouting things like "This is for Hanover Street" and "This is for all the money you're going to make on Return of the Jedi!" Then Carrie pops in along with "The Empire Strikes Back" director Irvin Kershner, with Fisher running to the aid of Ford. The whole strange but hilarious ordeal was captured on film, albeit the available copy floating about the web isn't of the highest quality.
"Remember the white dress I wore all through that film? George came up to me and said: 'You can't wear a bra under that dress.' 'OK, I'll bite,' I said. 'Why?' And he said: 'Because... there's no underwear in space.' He said it with such conviction. Like he had been to space and looked around and he didn't see any bras or panties anywhere. He explained, 'You go into space and you become weightless. Then your body expands but your bra doesn't, so you get strangled by your own underwear.' I think that this would make for a fantastic obituary. I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra."
Stunning many, Carrie Fisher revealed nearly 40 years later that while filming Star Wars, "It was Han and Leia during the week, and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend." The then 19-year-old actress was quickly wrapped up in a steamy affair with her 33-year-old co-star who was a married father of two. Among other things, she talked about the freedom on set and her own insecurities leading to the relationship, despite coming in with the attitude that no one on set could ever boast that "I've slept with Princess Leia." While she carried the guilt of that for a long time, apparently the whole ordeal was a little hazy. She revealed that while writing her last memoir, "The Princess Diarist," she found old journals about the affair which brought back many memories, as she admittedly didn't "remember any details." She later went to Ford about the journals and her intent to publish them, which, in his true fashion, he responded "Lawyer!"
We're definitely not knocking Carrie's acting abilities (even though she admitted at Dragon Con that she was "never that great of an actor"), but you know you've done something right when Hollywood legend Meryl Streep portrays you in a movie. And that is exactly what happened in the 1990 dramedy "Postcards from the Edge," which is based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Fisher herself. She even adapted it into the movie version, and must have felt pretty honored to have such an iconic actress play a character that she based on her own life. As to why she didn't want the main role of Suzanne herself, she simply stated, "I've already played Suzanne." Bonus fact: the novel was the first of eight publications she wrote, both fiction and nonfiction, and was groundbreaking in it's bravery and honesty about struggling with addiction. Bonus fact #2: Meryl Streep was one of the actresses she beat out for the role of Princess Leia.
Carrie Fisher has never been quiet about her struggle with mental illness, and in her lifelong work to educate and support others, she befriended Stephen Fry, who suffers from a less severe form of bipolar disorder called cyclothymia. After appearing in the BBC special "Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive" in 2006, Fisher exercised her comedic charm by occasionally sending Stephen some pretty hilariously strange gifts. Shortly after the tragic news of her passing broke, Fry took to Twitter to share the last three odd and silly gifts he had received from his friend, which was none other than a Jane Austen action figure, a starter kit titled "Dick-orette Patch" for sex addicts and a sticker that reads, "Come In, We're C--ts."
While not bitter, when Fisher reflected back on Star Wars in 2011, she said George Lucas "stole her identity." When she signed on to play the iconic role, she had no idea how big the films would become and thus how big Princess Leia would become. And of course, there is all the accompanying merchandise that she doesn't see a dime from. Despite this, she went on to say that she would never get into a "tantrum in the corner" for not getting her cut of "Star Wars toothpaste." Yet whatever her true feelings are about George Lucas, that didn't stop the pair got quite cozy on the set of "Hook." In the scene where Tinker Bell carries the unconscious Peter Banning to Neverland, they fly over Westminster Bridge. And on that bridge is a kissing couple ( yup, Fisher and Lucas), who begin to float into the air when Tinker Bell sprinkles her fairy dust on them.
Despite all her struggles with addiction and mental illness, Carrie grew into one strong and confident woman. She was also a lover of social media (hello, her dog Gary has his own Twitter account) and sharing her opinions, no matter how brash they might come off. As such, she was quick to shut down trolls online in the a way that only she could. Such as in 2015 with her return to Star Wars in "The Force Awakens," many were quick to criticize her on her looks, and you know, AGING. Carrie fired back on Twitter saying, "Please stop debating about whether or not I aged well. Unfortunately it hurts all three of my feelings. My BODY hasn't aged as well as I have. Blow us." BOOM.
While it's not a glamorous part of her past, Carrie Fisher worked hard to move past her gripping drug addiction. Using cocaine and prescription medication as a form of self-medication, she claimed the drugs helped her 'dial down' the maniac aspect of her bipolar disorder. Yet apparently it got so bad that Fisher admitted, "I did so much cocaine on [the] Star Wars set that even John Belushi told me I had a problem." Yet after she overdosed on a combination of prescription medication and sleeping pills in 1985 and was rushed to the hospital, her life took a turn towards finally come to terms with her condition and seeking professional treatment. Despite this troubled past, this hasn't stop someone from naming a strand a of marijuana after Leia. Upon making this discovery herself, Fisher commented that, "I never like marijuana, so the fact that I'm a type of marijuana is ironic." Her dislike of the drug may be due to the fact that her and Harrison Ford allegedly shared some "brutal strength" marijuana while also sharing a bed during the filming of Star Wars.
When it comes to galactic franchises, there are Star Wars fans and there are Star Trek fans, and they definitely don't mix. And apparently that is the same with some of the most prolific actors in the franchises. On his reality show "The Shatner Project" in 2011, the former Capt. Kirk fired shots at Star Wars, claiming it was "derivative" of Star Trek, and while his franchise had relationships and philosophical questions explored in episodes, Star Wars was all just special effects. Of course, Fisher was not going to be quiet on the matter, and shot back that her "space buns" were far superior to Mr. Spock's ears. But the best part has to be when George Takei stepped in, urging for "Space Peace" in such dire times, as at the time there was a great threat to all of science fiction, none other than "Twilight." God bless you George.
When it came to the slinky slave bikini she donned in "Return of the Jedi," it appears the young actress didn't have much of a choice in the matter, just like her character. "When [director George Lucas] showed me the outfit, I thought he was kidding and it made me very nervous," Fisher told NPR. Yet she was determined to make things better for future Star Wars actresses. During a joint interview with Episode VII's Daisy Ridley, Fisher told the new star to, "Fight for your outfit. Don't be a slave like I was." But regretting not fighting doesn't mean she wants to cover up the past either. Amid rumors in 2015 that Disney was going to retire all "slave Leia" merchandise after a father became upset that his daughter wanted the outfit for herself, Fisher wasn't hesitant to call the idea "stupid." In a perfectly frank response to what parents should tell their kids, she said, "Tell them that a giant slug captured me and forced me to wear that stupid outfit, and then I killed him because I didn't like it. And then I took it off. Backstage."
Probably nobody other than Fisher can claim that the legendary actor known for films such as "North by Northwest" gave them a call to tell them not to drop acid. But that is exactly what happened for Carrie, not once, but twice. As her mother was actress Debbie Reynolds and father was singer Eddie Fisher, the family had some famous friends, including Cary Grant. After getting into LSD as a teen, her concerned mother reached out to Grant to call her daughter and talk to her about it. Apparently the talk was ineffective, as her father later saw Grant at Grace Kelly's funeral and asked the same thing. As to why Grant was the go-to man to talk their daughter out of doing acid- well because he had done it once himself under doctor supervision of course! "I just always want to imagine, was he in a backless gown?" said Fisher. "Was the doctor on acid? Did they do it in the office? How do you do acid with a doctor? Dr. Feel Good!"
As a long time educator and advocate about mental health issues, Carrie hasn't been shy about her lifelong struggle with bipolar disorder, even resorting to electrotherapy after traditional therapy and medications failed to helped. Her years of struggle and triumphs led her to reach out to others who also suffer from mental illness, which led to her "Advice From The Dark Side" column on The Guardian. Also known as "Agony Aunt," readers could submit their issues to Fisher, whatever they may be, and she would eloquently give a thoughtful reply in the column. Though the posts are limited as it was launched in 2016, you can tell she really cared about each and every person that wrote to her, and that at the very least, she wanted them to know someone was in their corner.
While discussing a wide range of topics with Rolling Stones, Fisher was asked if she was happier now than she's ever been, to which she replied, "Yep. Well, I'm not happy about being older, except what are the options? But I've learned a lot. I trust myself. I trust my instincts. I know what I'm gonna do, what I can do, what I can't do. I've been through alot, and I could go through more, but I hope I don't have to. But if I did, I'd be able to do it. I'm not going to enjoy dying, but there's not much prep for that." Yet when she was asked if she feared death she said, "No. I fear dying. Anything with pain associated with it, I don't like. I've been there for a couple of people when they were dying; it didn't look like fun. But if I was gonna do it, I'd want someone like me around. And I will be there!" RIP Carrie Fisher.
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