Carrie Fisher: a legend far beyond Princess Leia
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When you hear the name Carrie Fisher ,what’s the first thing that you think of? If it’s Princess Leia, we forgive you; but she was so, so much more than that.
The daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, she was always destined to become a star. In her 2008 memoir Wishful Drinking she noted: “I am truly a product of Hollywood in-breeding. When two celebrities mate, someone like me is the result.” However, unlike most Hollywood legacy stars, she truly made her mark on not only the industry, but on the world.
In 1975, Fisher made her film debut in Shampoo (1975). Stealing the spotlight when starring opposite Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn (to name but a few) is no mean feat, yet Fisher managed it with ease, and the film gathered four Academy Award nominations.
It’s also easy to forget how brilliant Fisher was as a comedic actress. When Harry Met Sally (1989) is arguably the most iconic romantic comedy of all time, and like all iconic films, Fisher was in it. Her role as Sally's tell-it-how-it-is best friend, Marie was one of her best. The scene where Marie comes to the realisation that her 'boyfriend' is never going to leave his wife after finding a receipt for a dining room table in his pocket is truly hilarious. She was also fantastic as Carol in The ‘Burbs (1989) a satirical film about modern suburban life, in which she starred alongside Tom Hanks as the wife of a man who is convinced that his neighbours are murderers. It's a pretty bizarre plot, but boasts a great cast, and is one of the most underrated comedy films out there.
Her novel Postcards from the Edge was adapted into a film in 1990, starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine. Postcards from the Edge was a semi-autobiographical tale of Fisher’s relationship with her old Hollywood megastar mother, Debbie Reynolds. Fisher also wrote the screenplay for the film which was nominated for several prestigious awards, including a BAFTA for best adapted screenplay and an Academy Award for best actress for Streep.
She was also instrumental behind the scenes of some of Hollywood’s best loved films. Fisher was one of the most sought-after ‘script doctors’ in the industry, after being brought in by many writers and directors to help them improve a script. In Hook (1991) she worked alongside director Steven Spielberg to help bring the script up to scratch; Hook then went on to be nominated for five Academy Awards. Everything Fisher touched became an Award show magnet.
One of the most beloved film musicals of all time, Sister Act (1992) was no exception. Whoopi Goldberg herself reportedly asked Fisher to help with the script. Fisher had become known amongst writers, directors and actors as someone who could make female characters even better. She took Princess Leia and made her one of the most iconic female characters of all time, and other people wanted that effect on their own films. Fisher had a knack of taking a good character and making them extraordinary.
When she passed away in 2016, the world truly lost somebody special. Whilst Fisher’s legacy is of course going to be remembered most fondly for her role as Princess Leia, a character that touched generations of young girls and told them princesses can be tough as hell, let us also remember her as more.
She was a writer - a fantastic one at that, a performer, a mental health and women’s rights advocate, a mother, a daughter, a script doctor and more importantly - a pretty bloody brilliant woman.