It is with a truly heavy heart that we at FTN mourn the passing of Carrie Fisher. Carrie, who suffered a cardiac arrest on Friday, has sadly died today; she was aged 60. Whilst many will instantly recognise her as Princess Leia from Star Wars, this was not her only claim to fame for Carrie lived an incredible life.
Born into showbiz royalty, Carrie Fisher was the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher, and it was the tumultuous relationship with her mother that led became the cause of many of her inner demons throughout her life.
Carrie’s first movie came in 1975 when she appeared opposite Warren Beatty in Shampoo. It was a small role, but one that garnered her some attention due to the provocative nature of her character.
Then in 1977, Carrie blasted across the silver screen in Star Wars. She had no idea that this “hokey sci fi” movie would become the global phenomenon of the century and propel her to mega stardom. Up until that point in cinema, there had been very few leading ladies portrayed as anything but starlets or beauty icons, but the character Princess Leia changed all that. Suddenly there was a female lead who was the first female action hero, proving that although she was beautiful and royalty, she could still fire blasters and come off with great quips!
Thanks to George Lucas’ merchandising strategy, boys who had never even glanced at a “girl’s doll” suddenly wanted to play with Princess Leia figures and they quickly sold out. Indeed, over the past 39 years, there is still an incredible thriving market for all kinds of Princess Leia memorabilia.
Due to her friendship with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd (Dan and Carrie where once engaged to be married), Carrie appeared as the vengeful jilted lover in the cult classic The Blues Brothers in 1980. Whilst this musical comedy filled with exciting car chases had many cameos from Saturday Night Live actors and affiliates, it was once again Carrie Fisher who was lead female actor.
The 1981 saw Princess Leia return in The Empire Strikes Back and once again worldwide stardom was thrusted upon Carrie with the second instalment in the Star Wars trilogy. It is worth noting that around the time of filming, Carrie Fisher had become romantically involved with her co star Harrison Ford, with details of this affair only recently coming to public light due to the publication of Carrie’s book The Princess Diarist.
As an actress, the 1980s continued to build upon her success from the Star Wars movies with the final part of the trilogy, Return of the Jedi becoming one of the biggest box office smashes of the decade and cementing Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia as one of cinema’s most sexiest stars thanks to a certain golden bikini! Carrie gave brilliant performances in the drama Hannah and her Sisters, played comedy with the same amount of skill and dedication in The Burbs and in When Harry Met Sally.
The 1990s followed and by now Carrie was establishing herself as more than just a Sci Fi icon for she had become an accomplished novelist with the release of her semi-autobiographical novel Postcards from the Edge. This novel was painted a very different world of showbiz life for a mother and daughter as it showed the strains and pressure of growing up in a not so normal world. The novel became an instant best seller and was quickly made into a big budget movie starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.
By the end of the 1990s and into the millennium Carrie Fisher had appeared in numerous blockbusters including Austin Powers, Drop Dead Fred, Scream 3, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle as well as appearing in some lower budgeted but high end dramas including Wonderland.
Aside from acting, Carrie was also a prolific script doctor, polishing up a number of scripts and usually not receiving an onscreen credit. Some of the most noted of these was Lethal Weapon 3, along with Sister Act and The Wedding Singer.
Continuing to write her autobiographies, including Wishful Drinking and Shockoholic; both of which detailed her bouts of drug addiction and mental illness which she endured for most of her adult life.
In 2015 Carrie Fisher reprised her role of Princess Leia in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Once again Star Wars re-ignited the world’s desire for more stories and galactic space battles, and they were not disappointed. Millions of fans cheered when Princess Leia and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) appeared together once again on screen and it was clear that the on screen/off screen chemistry was still there.
I personally met Carrie at London Film and Comic Con a couple of years ago where I obtained a personalised autograph of her in her Empire Strikes Back pose (Phil, All my love, Carrie Fisher) and a photograph and I can honestly say that the brief moments I spoke to her where among the happiest moments in my life. She clearly enjoyed her fans adulation of her and was ever the gracious the guest.
For the decades of cinematic entertainment Carrie has provided, for the well documented no holds barred insight into her private life and especially for proving that ladies can be action icons every bit as much as men, we fans will greatly miss you and you will forever hold a place in our hearts.
“Oh, the General? To me, she is royalty.” Lor San Tekka, The Force Awakens