Fisher’s kindness to others with bipolar disorder was one of the striking things I learned about ‘Princess Leia’ in researching her life for my book.
USA TODAY – Early in 2004, entrepreneur Joanne Doan had just gotten funding for a serious niche magazine. Called bpHope, it would be tailored to the more than 6 million Americans with bipolar disorder, which, until 1980, was called manic depression. In a fit of hubris, Doan contacted Carrie Fisher — famous of course as an actor, writer and charismatic personality. Since Fisher had gone public with her diagnosis of bipolar I (the more serious form) four years earlier, Doan asked her the long-shot question: Would she pose for the cover and give a lengthy interview to a magazine that didn’t exist yet?
“`Yes!’’ Carrie said, and “without hesitation,’’ Doan told me. She was happily stunned: “Carrie Fisher on the cover got us advertising we never would have gotten otherwise. I don’t know what we would have done without her.’’
Carrie’s candor in three interviews for the magazine “inspired our community to be able to … go out there and live fulfilling lives,” Doan said.“She took the stigma against bipolar disorder and kicked it to the curb.’’
Kind and encouraging to bipolar fans
Carrie’s significance in encouraging people who are bipolar to get over their shame, and her kindness to others in the community, were among the most striking things I learned in researching her life for my forthcoming book, “Carrie Fisher: A Life On the Edge.”
In 2000, she told Diane Sawyer about the severe psychotic break she had suffered. She had actually written the word “shame” instead of her name on a hospital form, Now, she said, looking into Sawyer’s eyes, “I am mentally ill. I can say that.”
Even at “Star Wars” events, she spoke of her illness and “made extra time, long after she was supposed to leave, talking to fans who were also bipolar,” said David Zentz, a nuclear worker and “Star Wars” fanatic who saw her at more than three dozen events over the years.
Carrie was a way-paver, especially with women. The only female celebrity who had comprehensively admitted her bipolarity before Carrie did was the former child actress Patty Duke, who in 1992 had published a memoir called “A Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic-Depressive Illness.”
But, as Princess Leia and an icon to her peer group, Carrie’s influence was stronger.
Media shaming for bipolar women
Even though there’s the same personal shame for men as for women in being bipolar, women bipolars are media shamed far more than men are. After Carrie’s forthright declaration of her mental illness to Sawyer, it would be four more years before Jane Pauley dared write about her bipolarity, more than a decade before Catherine Zeta-Jonesrevealed hers and Demi Lovato admitted that she had been diagnosed, and nearly 18 years before Mariah Carey did.
Mental illness is agonizing, and bipolar disorder has its own form of agony. Carrie once described her manic periods to the Los Angeles Times as “feeling like my mind’s been having a party all night long and I’m the last person to arrive and now I have to clean up the mess.”
And being female can make things harder: Women are often diagnosed as merely “the worried well” until it’s too late to get the most effective treatment. And because of female hormonal changes, the arc from premenstrual to menopausal, women often have to change their medication frequently. Also, virtually all medication for bipolar — including the mainstay, lithium — involves weight gain, a particularly sensitive issue for women.
Credit for pushing the truth
At the end of her life, the usually snarky and tough Carrie Fisher admitted to being deeply hurt by the weight-shaming she received on the internet, and much of her weight gain had to do with her medication. Bipolarity is not “unlike a tour of duty in Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside),” she wrote in her book “Wishful Drinking.” And she believed that pride, not shame, should come from being a warrior in that battle.
One of the most important things Carrie did, says Stephen Fried, an author who specializes in the subject, is to make the point that just because a person’s symptoms are gone for a while, they are not gone for good — they will return. The public often misunderstands the chronic nature of mental illness and gets wrongly judgmental with what they misconstrue as relapse caused by an undisciplined person rather than the sheer tenacity of the disease.
“Carrie Fisher was always in people’s faces about her mental illness,” Fried said, admiringly. “She let you know that even when she seemed fine, she wasn’t. She deserves a lot of credit for pushing that truth’’ and humanizing the disease.
“I am mentally ill. I can say that.” Those were blunt, powerful words from an unusually honest and very helpful woman.
Sheila Weller is the author of “Carrie Fisher: A Life on the Edge,” to be published Nov. 12, from which parts of this column are drawn. Her earlier books include the 2008 “Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon — And the Journey of a Generation.” Find her on Facebook here.
MENTAL FLOSS – Although both Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford have their own stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, their former Star Wars co-star, Carrie Fisher, did not get a chance to receive the honor before she passed away in 2016.
Now, Hamill is rallying for Fisher to get a posthumous star, and is asking fans via social media to help out.
On October 8, the Luke Skywalker actor responded to a fan on Twitter asking who to contact to get the late Leia Organa actress a star on the prestigious street.
Carrie WILL get her well-deserved Star on the Walk of Fame, it’s only a matter of when. The rule is a 5-year wait when awarded posthumously. A letter to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce wouldn’t hurt, urging them to time it to the release of #EpIX⭐️#AlwaysWithUs pic.twitter.com/CVMX1csDwJ
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) October 9, 2018
Fisher died on December 27, 2016 at the age of 60. Just days after her passing, a fan created their own Hollywood star for the actress, which read, “Carrie Fisher. May the Force be with you always. Hope.”
Hamill received his star this past March, and at the ceremony, he and Ford spoke of Fisher’s legacy and how much they missed her.
Many fans have replied to Hamill’s tweet, agreeing to write letters and expressing their shock that Fisher doesn’t have a star already.
We’ll be able to see Fisher again in Star Wars: Episode IX, as director J.J. Abrams has decided to include unused footage of her from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi in the film. The next installment hits theaters December 20, 2019.
ESQUIRE – In her memoir released shortly before her death in late 2016, Carrie Fisher wrote, “I’m sorry it’s not Mark [Hamill] — it could have been. It should have been. It might’ve meant something. Maybe not much, but certainly more,” she said of her relationship with her Star Wars co-star. Of course, as we know, she didn’t have a relationship with Hamill because during the filming of the movies, she’d had an affair with Harrison Ford, who at the time was married and in his late 30s.
In a long-lost documentary about the making of Empire Strikes Back that was recently discovered and published on YouTube, Fisher, Hamill, and Ford discuss their on-screen love triangle. What’s funny, is given the context of what we know now about their personal lives, it’s hard not to detect the actors projecting a bit of themselves into the plot.
“She’s the princess after all and I’m an opportunist, but it develops into a love story as it were,” Ford says of the section of the film where Leia and Solo go off on their own in the Millennium Falcon.
But, Hamill thinks if he’d has his chance alone with the princess, he’d have ended up with her: “Give me three weeks with her in hyperspace and I might make a few points. I’m so burned about that,” Hamill says in the doc.
“Poor kid, it’s quite shocking, he’s of course fond of the princess himself,” Ford says.
Fisher had the most astute analysis of the Solo, Skywalker, Organa relationship.
“It starts out as a love triangle and then I’m thrown together with Han Solo,” Fisher says. “It ends up being one of those relationships like Tracy and Hepburn where we scream at each other for the first half of the film and then we end up liking each other.”
They’re all giggling through the interviews, of course, and it’s really very sweet. The rest of the doc focuses on how the crew created the special effects for the battle of Hoth, which took an insane amount of effort in the days before CGI.
ET CANADA – When the stars of two of science fiction’s biggest franchises join forces, anything is possible — even replacing Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with a star honouring the late Carrie Fisher.
Mark Hamill first floated the idea after vandals trashed the president’s Walk of Fame star, leading to Hollywood City Council voting to remove the star.
Amidst the fracas, the “Star Wars” actor had a genius idea, suggesting Trump’s star be replaced with one paying tribute to “someone who really earned it.”
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) August 6, 2018
A week later, the star of an entirely different sci-fi franchise chimed in.
Now, it’s official: Star Wars fans will have one final chance to say goodbye to Carrie Fisher, with Lucasfilm announcing that the actress, who died in December 2016, will appear in next year’s Star Wars: Episode IX.
In a statement, director J.J. Abrams sought to put concerns about potential CGI resurrections to rest, saying that the new movie will use “unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII” and assuring fans that “we were never going to recast, or use a CG character.” While this is, undoubtedly, comforting, it would also appear to offer particular clues about the role Fisher — or, more specifically, her character, Leia Organa — will play in the movie.
Firstly: Purely for practical purposes, Leia’s presence in the movie will be small. If nothing else, there can’t be that much extraneous, unseen footage from 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens; she was barely in that movie, so unless large swaths of scenes were shot but never even hinted at by anyone involved in the production, there’s limited material to draw from in the first place, and surely not everything available will be used.
Considering the context of the footage, it also limits the potential use for Episode IX. Leia appeared in few scenes and locations in The Force Awakens. Leia was on Takodana, rescuing Han, Chewbacca, Rey and Finn, and then at the Resistance base on D’Qar, where she takes part in planning, and later monitoring, the attack on Starkiller Base. Aside from brief interludes with Han and, later, Rey, she’s very much in “harried leader” mode throughout the movie. Does this mean that this is the Leia we’ll see in Episode IX, even after losing her ex-husband, and then her brother, in the previous two movies?
FOX NEWS – Todd Fisher can still vividly recall the last conversation he had with his sister, Hollywood star and “Star Wars” icon Carrie Fisher.
The pair were celebrating the actress’ birthday with a lavish party thrown by their mother, fellow screen legend Debbie Fisher, who had suffered a stroke a year before.
The siblings, who noticed their mother was excited but frail, were compelled to open up with each other.
“We were talking about traveling together and doing other things, and she was still a little angry at me because, A, the party I had to sort of force down her throat, but my mom wanted it, and B, there was always different tension between the family of mom, particularly myself, and Carrie, as it related to her drug use at the time,” the 60-year-old told Fox News.
“… But when Carrie and I got face-to-face, there was no way to have any of that. It just melted away, because the blood, the relationship between brother and sister, the bond, is so deep… She broke down and said ‘… We have to be OK with each other. It’s the foundation.’”
Carrie died in 2016 at age 60 after suffering from a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles. Their mother died just a day later at age 84 from a stroke.
STARWARS.COM – Star Wars: Episode IX will begin filming at London’s Pinewood Studios on August 1, 2018. J.J. Abrams returns to direct the final installment of the Skywalker saga. Abrams co-wrote the screenplay with Chris Terrio.
Returning cast members include Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd. Joining the cast of Episode IX are Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant, and Keri Russell, who will be joined by veteran Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams, who will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian.
The role of Leia Organa will once again be played by Carrie Fisher, using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” says Abrams. “Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us. We were never going to recast, or use a CG character. With the support and blessing from her daughter, Billie, we have found a way to honor Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII.”
Composer John Williams, who has scored every chapter in the Star Wars saga since 1977’s A New Hope, will return to a galaxy far, far away with Episode IX.
Star Wars: Episode IX will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Michelle Rejwan, and executive produced by Callum Greene and Jason McGatlin. The crew includes Dan Mindel (Director of Photography), Rick Carter and Kevin Jenkins (Co-Production Designers), Michael Kaplan (Costume Designer), Neal Scanlan (Creature and Droid FX), Maryann Brandon and Stefan Grube (Editors), Roger Guyett (VFX Supervisor), Tommy Gormley (1st AD), and Victoria Mahoney (2nd Unit Director).
Release is scheduled for December 2019.
HUFFINGTON POST – There’s a brief, but powerful moment in The Last Jedi where Leia, the storied Princess turned General, stands alone in a cold expanse. Behind her, in the dark, her defenses are at their weakest. Ahead, trouble quickly approaches. Despite these dire straits, Leia keeps her eyes fixed on the horizon, ready to meet what comes. Though this sequence only lasts mere seconds, the quiet intensity of the scene serving as a perfect cinematic portrait not only of the iconic character, but also of the incomparable woman who portrayed her.
I’ve been thinking about Carrie Fisher a lot lately. Naturally, the release of the new Star Wars film has contributed to this fact, but also the knowledge that this December 27th marks a full year since her passing.
Like many kids of my generation, Star Wars was always sort of pop culturally omnipresent in my life. As is the nature of such zeitgeist behemoths, it was almost impossible to not be held in its thrall: I remember clutching my Ewok stuffed animal tight while watch the original movies on VHS and recall getting swept up in the fever pitch leading up to the release of the prequels. Even if tangentially, there’s something magical about bearing witness to a piece of storytelling that has touched so many lives. And, as someone who has since devoted his own life to storytelling, it’s a phenomenon I cannot help but admire.
That being said, in comparison to the far more dedicated members of the fandom, I would definitely consider myself a casual participant in the world of Star Wars. For no better reason than often the interference of life, my attention to the franchise has occasionally waned here and there over the years, though I have never forgotten my appreciation for its innate magic. However, the one thing that has never waned is my appreciation for the galaxy’s grand dame: Carrie Fisher.
Like many, my first introduction to Carrie Fisher was as Princess Leia. I always liked this rebel rouser who, even while the men were attempting to mount a rescue mission, would invariably rescue herself. As a little boy who grew up with the male-driven media of my generation, Leia broke the mold of merely being a damsel in distress. She took charge, she fought back, she stood defiant. In a galaxy that didn’t necessarily believe in her or her form of rebellion, she believed in herself.
…and though I didn’t realize it at the time, as a little queer kid growing up in small town America, she was exactly what I, and so many others, needed to see.
Granted, Leia’s agency notwithstanding, it was actually Fisher’s life beyond the galaxy far, far away that left the most profound impact on me. I’ve been an avid reader most of my life, and when I was in high school, I picked up a copy of Fisher’s Postcards from the Edge at a bookstore by happenstance. I had heard of the movie, but honestly may not have even thought to get the book had it not been on sale. Luckily, being a broke student led to me discovering something that, in a way, changed my life.
Within the pages of Postcards was a tale, not of space, but of the intricacies of humanity. Of the tragic flaws that exist within all of us, the cracks in our relationships, and the struggles to overcome the darkness we create for ourselves. It was a raw, honest work.
…and it was also funny as hell.
US WEEKLY – Sometimes, there’s no clear divide between good and evil. As Daisy Ridley’s Rey comes into her powers in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, she begins to question where her allegiance lies.
“From the start, Star Wars has always had the good guy confronting the extent to which the bad guy is a reflection of themselves,” writer-director Rian Johnson tells Us. “With Luke, he thinks Darth Vader is an evil guy who he has to kill. Then he realizes this person is apart of him.”
And Rey is dealing with an added struggle: She can’t find herself until she finds her family. Though she thought she had a glimmer of hope in Han Solo (Harrison Ford), “that was violently taken away,” says Johnson. “She’s still searching for her place in all this. She thinks figuring out who her parents are will help define her in this story.”
ET ONLINE – Carrie Fisher continues to be remembered by fans, friends, and family.
The late actress’ brother, Todd Fisher, helped honor her memory at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles on Thursday, just hours before Star Wars: The Last Jedi was released in theaters.
Fisher received a plaque at the historic Hollywood institution that read “Dedicated to Carrie by the TCL Chinese Theatre, her Star Wars home since 1977. ‘We love you Carrie.'”
‘Dedicated to Carrie by the TCL Chinese Theatre, her Star Wars home since 1977 “We love you Carrie.”’#CarrieFisher #PrincessLeila #TCLChineseTheatres #ToddFisher #StarWars #TheLastJedi pic.twitter.com/xTQy9GwgLf
— TCL Chinese Theatres (@ChineseTheatres) December 14, 2017