Carrie Fisher spent much of her life as a writer yet despite her huge success it was one role that overshadowed her entire career, that of Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy. It was a role that bought her huge fame but at a huge cost including failed marriages, drink and drug abuse as well as mental health issues.
Born in Beverley Hills on October 21st 1956 as Carrie Frances Fisher to Hollywood star Debbie Reynolds and pop star Eddie Fisher whose marriage only lasted two years after her birth due to her father’s affair with Elizabeth Taylor who, until then, was a friend of her mother. Living with her Reynolds she immersed herself in books and poetry but was unable to resist joining her mother in a stage musical and led to her never graduating from college.
However many of her fans were unaware that she moved to London after being accepted by the Central school of Speech and Drama before returning to New York where she attended an arts college and by 1975 she landed her first big screen role in ‘Shampoo’ but would prove to be her last role before landing the part that would define her for a generation in 1977’s ‘Star Wars’ and her recent memoir ‘The Princess Diarist’ revealed that at 19 she’d had a three month affair with co star Harrison Ford who himself was married at the time.
Having made a number of stage appearances she inevitably returned to the role three years later in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and after that again in 1983’s ‘Return of the Jedi’ by which time she had married Paul Simon who she had been with for five years by then. Unfortunately their marriage lasted barely a year before they were divorced.
Fisher also had a relationship with a talent agent Bryan Lourd and had a daughter Billie Lourd with him but the relationship lasted only 3 years after he left her to be with a man.
She continued to appear in minor roles in other films as varied as The Blues Brothers, Woody Allen’s Hannah and her Sisters. The Burbs, When Harry met Sally, Scream 3 and Charlie’s Angels:Full Throttle but none would give her the breakout role to escape the shadow of Leia.
From the early Eighties she had begun consuming drugs and alcohol at an alarming rate and in 1985 was rushed to hospital after an overdose. By then she had started turn her attention to writing and it was a defining moment for her as the incident was pivotal to her first novel, Postcards from the Edge, where she sent up her reliance on drugs as well as her stormy relationship with her own mother and the book was to become a successful film in 1990 starring Meryl Streep.
The book was a start of a new career for her and she went onto write 3 further novels and became a highly regarded script doctor revising scripts for such films as Lethal Weapon 3 and Hook. Ever ready to poke fun at herself she appeared as Carrie Fisher for David Cronenberg in his film ‘Maps to the stars’ as well as in the TV series ‘Sex and the City’ and became a regular guest on chat shows as her openness about Hollywood and her refusal to leave anything off limits made a refreshing change and was a favourite of BBC’s The Graham Norton show.
Fisher always managed to be objective about the madness of Hollywood and was never shy to hide her own foibles allowing herself to talk candidly about her own issues including her drug addiction which included LSD, cocaine and prescription painkillers She was also diagnosed as bipolar for which she received electroshock therapy.
Her defining role was to call again when talk of a new Star Wars film was announced after Disney purchased the franchise from George Lucas for $4billion and in 2015 she appeared in ‘The Force Awakens’ and recently appeared in the first standalone Star Wars film ‘Rogue One’ albeit in a digitised image lifted from the 1977 film.
Fisher suffered a heart attack on a flight from London to LA on 23rd December and passed away at 0855hrs on 27th December 2016.