THE MARY SUE – The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson recently gave a fairly wide-ranging interview to Yahoo! News, covering everything from how Disney selects its spoilers to potential backlash against the Porgs, but it was his quote about Carrie Fisher that really tugged at my heartstrings. Johnson discussed how Fisher was deeply conscious of Leia’s importance to women in the Star Wars fandom, and how she tried to serve the character’s legacy through both her performance and the script.
“She was so conscious of the place that Leia had,” Johnson said, “not just broadly in the culture, but very specifically in terms of girls who grew up watching Star Wars, when Leia was the only female hero on the screen. She really wanted to do right by that, drawing the character forward. That was something that she would always be pulling us back to.”
Fisher’s dedication to doing right by the character and her fans also extended to the script, which she worked with Johnson on. Johnson has previously praised Fisher’s contributions to the story, calling her “a brilliant writer, with an incredible mind,” but here he specifically spoke to her work on Leia.
“For me it was fantastic, because besides all the other benefits of having a fantastic writer like Carrie there by my side while we’re making this movie, just having a voice that was like a compass needle that would always pull it back in the right direction of This is what this character means, and this is what we always have to make sure that she’s serving, with her strength and also with her weaknesses — showing a fully realized character who is going to be inspiring to the folks who grew up with Leia.”
Knowing that this will be Fisher’s last performance as Leia, it was heartening to hear that she had so much involvement in shaping the character’s arc and attitude – and that she did so with a mind to what she meant to Star Wars fangirls everywhere. When there are still fanboys out there who insist that Star Wars is a “guy thing,” it’s important that the people who are actually, you know, making Star Wars films recognize the female fans – both those who’ve been there since the beginning, and those who are only just discovering Star Wars.
As ever with this movie, I am not ready for my emotions.
VANITY FAIR – Her father, Eddie Fisher, left her mother, Debbie Reynolds, for Elizabeth Taylor—and that was only the beginning.
Carrie Fisher, who died Tuesday, had a complex relationship with Hollywood, which she hilariously described in her autographical books, one-woman show, and interviews over her four-decade career. While it can be grotesque to watch celebrities publicly lamenting their life’s hand, Fisher used her wit, talent, and experiences to entertain audiences everywhere from movie screens to Twitter streams. And in a 2009 interview, Fisher told Vanity Fair how sharing her stories—which had an atypical, wry perspective on Hollywood’s usual trappings: stars, addictions, and broken marriages—played a large role in her mental health.
“The fact that I can make somebody laugh at this stuff—it can be very cathartic,” Fisher said of opening her life up for public consumption. “If you claim something, you can own it. But if you have it as a shameful secret, you’re fucked; you’re sitting in a room populated by elephants. I have a lot of elephants to kill. But I also have a lot to be grateful for. Most of my problems are high-class. As Mike Nichols used to say, ‘The champagne is flat and the caviar has run out—will it never end?’”
Fisher’s life began with the same flash-bulb crack that would accompany her to her untimely end. The first child of pop singer Eddie Fisher and Singin’ in the Rain star Debbie Reynolds (who died one day after Fisher did), Fisher later joked that she—a cynical Hollywood misfit plagued by addiction and bipolar disorder—was “truly a product of Hollywood in-breeding. When two celebrities mate, someone like me is the result.” In her autobiography, Fisher described what it was like entering the world as the offspring of two of the world’s biggest stars:
When I was born, my mother was given an anesthetic because they didn’t have epidurals in those days. Consequently, she was unconscious.
Now, my mother is a beautiful woman—she’s beautiful today in her 70s, so at 24 she looked like a Christmas morning. All the doctors [in the delivery room] were buzzing round her pretty head, saying: ‘Oh, look at Debbie Reynolds asleep—how pretty.’
And my father, upon seeing me start to arrive, fainted. So all the nurses ran over saying: ‘Oh look, there’s Eddie Fisher, the crooner, on the ground. Let’s go look at him.’
So when I arrived I was virtually unattended. And I have been trying to make up for that fact ever since.