Because 2016 hasn’t been enough of a dick punch? Today we just lost Carrie Fisher, who clung to life for days following a heart attack on an international flight from London to LAX. She was only 60. And to guys and gals of my generation? She will be (like it or not) forever Princess Leia. Tonight, our generation (and ALL the generations who loved and admired her) mourn our lost princess…
Fisher was also a noted screenwriter/script doctor; having written the screenplay to her own semi-autobiographical “Postcards From the Edge”, as well as doctoring the troubled screenplays for “Sister Act” “Hook” “Lethal Weapon 3” and even fixing some dialogue on the “The Empire Strikes Back” when she was all of 22 (!). She was also a noted author; tackling her past with drug addiction, as well as her struggles with bipolar disorder in both fictional and non-fictional accounts, and with her trademark sardonic wit.
She was the daughter of Hollywood; born in Beverly Hills to actress Debbie Reynolds (“The Unsinkable Molly Brown”) and singer Eddie Fisher. Her own daughter Billie Lourd (b. 1992) is following in her footsteps, and the two even shared screen time in last year’s much anticipated Star Wars sequel “The Force Awakens” which also reunited Fisher with her former costar Harrison Ford, whom he recently admitted having a fling with in her most recent biography of her Star Wars years, “The Princess Diarist.”
But for me personally? She meant a lot more. I’ve already stated in earlier posts how “Star Wars” utterly blew my then-ten year old brain in 1977, and Fisher’s Princess Leia was a hell of a role model (for ANY gender, not just young girls). She was not your typical damsel in distress; she kicked ass and took names. She even grabbed a laser blaster and aided in her own escape from the Death Star. She was the forerunner for the tough modern heroine we almost take for granted in movies and TV shows today. Yet she always maintained a wonderful air of regality about her. What a character! And this was 1977, mind you… the era when women in movies were little more than arm candy sidekicks for the ‘real’ heroes (aka the male leads). Leia Organa held her own, and she stood toe-to-toe with the baddest of the bad guys without flinching. There was an inner reservoir of ‘toughness’ that had to come from Fisher as well, because Fisher later came to pull herself out of her own personal hells with addiction and mental illness. And she could laugh about it. That takes serious guts.
I also remember at my very first Comic Con in San Diego in 2004, my wife and I saw her speak in the infamous “Hall H” (a 6,000 seat venue), and she was utterly frank and hilarious. She joked about being traumatized by the “Help me, Obi wan Kenobi” hologram speech (she even recited the entire speech verbatim for the crowd). They had to shoot her saying it from multiple angles and to this day, it’s forever nestled in her brain. She also joked about how Lucasfilm owned the rights to her image, and that whenever she looks in the mirror now she “owes George Lucas a couple bucks.” I feel privileged that although I never got the chance to actually meet her, I did get to see her live onstage in front of a crowd. She seemed to feed off of the crowd’s energy, and the crowd just loved her. Much as Carrie Fisher was part of a life-changing experience for me when I first saw “Star Wars”? She also was one of the best parts of my first-ever San Diego Comic Con; an event my wife and I have now attended steadily for the past 12 years (and will continue to attend, fates willing…).
Now this frank, witty, sardonic, genius-talented voice is gone.
I’ve heard that her work in the upcoming Star Wars Episode VIII had been more or less completed before her passing, and the recent prequel “Rogue One” used a digital double and voice actress to play the 19 year old version of Fisher in that film. But I have NO IDEA how Disney and JJ Abrams (Star Wars’ new producer) can work around the loss of Fisher for Episode IX. It’s too ghoulish at this point to seriously contemplate a next step forward for her character, though I’m sure someone at Disney has been given this grim task as I write this blog. I wish them a lot of luck.
In my opinion, they shouldn’t even try to replace her (digitally and/or with judicious editing). Carrie Frances Fisher was unique in Hollywood, and utterly irreplaceable.
The bright side of the Force dimmed a bit today…