Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Remembering Carrie Fisher, Our Princess

Carrie Fisher, best known as Princess Leia in the Original Trilogy and The Force Awakens, died today at 60 following a massive heart attack on Friday. The legendary actress, writer, and activist was a beloved member of the Star Wars community. She brought a wit and strength to Leia that made her a truly iconic heroine. 
And Carrie herself shared these characteristics. She was widely known for her sense of humor and brutal honesty, particularly when observing the film industry into which she was born. As the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher (essentially the Brangelina of the 1950s), she had a unique perspective of Hollywood:
"Acting engenders and harbors qualities that are best left way behind in adolescence. People-pleasing, going on those interviews and jamming your whole personality into getting the job, ingratiating yourself to people you wouldn't f***ing spit on if they were on fire."
Acting clearly wasn't Carrie's passion, but writing may have been. In 1987, she wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, Postcards from the Edge, as well as the screenplay for the film based on the book, starring Meryl Streep. She published Wishful Drinking, a book based on her autobiographical one-woman play of the same name, in 2008. Her latest memoir, The Princess Diarist, hit shelves last month. 

Even more impressively, Carrie was one of the most talented script doctors in Hollywood. She fixed the screenplays for 1990s classics such as HookSister Act, and Lethal Weapon 3. In the Star Wars franchise itself, she worked on the scripts for parts of the Original Trilogy (as seen in the image below) and was later hired by George Lucas to polish dialogue for the Prequel Trilogy as well. She received no credit for any of these contributions. 
Fisher's notes on a page from the Empire Strikes Back script
The greatest indication of Carrie's bravery in the face of the scrutiny of Hollywood is her famous outspokenness about her bipolar disorder and history of cocaine addiction. In 2005, Harvard College gave Fisher its Annual Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism:
"Ms. Fisher's work humanizes a popular culture obsessed with celebrity, and helps readers laugh at the absurdity of contemporary society and relationships. Her forthright activism and outspokenness about addiction, mental illness and agnosticism have advanced public discourse on these issues with creativity and empathy."
Fisher with her daughter, Billie Lourd (Lieutenant Connix) on the set of The Force Awakens
Fortunately, Carrie's work – in particular, her contribution to Star Wars – isn't over yet. She finished filming her scenes for Episode VIII several months ago. Next December, we'll see her take the screen as General Leia Organa once again, though it'll come with a certain bittersweetness, as well as some reservation about how the franchise will handle her death. 

On and off the screen, Carrie Fisher was a symbol of fortitude, fearlessness, intelligence, humor, feminism, and general badassery. She will always be our Princess, and she will be missed dearly.

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