Ending what has been, for many, a terrible year on a truly awful note, this morning we lost a princess.
Not only was actor and writer Carrie Fisher perhaps best known and loved for her role as the Star Wars saga’s Princess Leia, she was herself a Hollywood princess, daughter of 50s screen star sweetheart Debbie Reynolds and entertainer Eddie Fisher.
The author of several novels, works of non-fiction and memoirs, including 1987’s Postcards from the Edge, which she later performed as a one-woman show, Fisher was always most sharply identified with that iconic Star Wars role which began with the very first film in the franchise back in 1977 in the movie now known as A New Hope. From Rolling Stone:
“[George] Lucas always had to remind me to ‘Stand up! Be a princess!’ And I would act like a Jewish princess and lean forward, slouching, chewing gum,” Fisher once joked.
Fisher also saw parallels between Princess Leia, the lost daughter of the series’ villain Darth Vader, and her own unique childhood as the daughter of two Fifties superstars; Fisher endured both her mother’s highly publicized divorces as well as her father’s own issues with substance abuse (“He’s a little shellshocked from 13 years of doing speed, but he’s real friendly,” she said in 1980 of Eddie Fisher, who died in 2010.)
“Leia’s real father left her mother when she was pregnant, so her mother married this King Organa. I was adopted and grew up set apart from other people because I was a princess,” Fisher said. “A lot of parallels, me and Leia. Dad goes off to the dark side, and Mom marries a millionaire. My brother and I went in different directions on the Debbie and Eddie issue. He’s gotten involved with Jesus, and I do active work on myself, trying to make myself better and better. It’s funny.”
Throughout her career, Fisher was open about her struggles with mental illness – the actress was diagnosed with bipolar disorder – and drug use, admitting that she had abused cocaine throughout the filming of The Empire Strikes Back, as well as prescription drugs. “Drugs made me feel normal,” Fisher said in 2001. Her one-woman play and memoir Wishful Drinking also tackled her battle with addiction.
Today her Star Wars co-stars are remembering Fisher. Star Wars creator George Lucas, a lifelong friend of Fisher’s, released a statement: “She was extremely smart; a talented actress, writer and comedienne with a very colorful personality that everyone loved. In Star Wars she was our great and powerful princess – feisty, wise and full of hope in a role that was more difficult than most people might think. My heart and prayers are with [daughter] Billie, [mother] Debbie and all Carrie’s family, friends and fans. She will be missed by all.”