The witty, wise Carrie Fisher

54th New York Film Festival Screening of HBO's Documentary 'Bright Lights', USA - 10 Oct 2016
Image from TVLine.

(Update, 2:13 p.m.: Good for you, Brian Lowry.)

Carrie Fisher has died. She passed away today after reportedly suffering a massive heart attack Friday. She was 60.

The obituaries will focus on her portrayal of Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” films. That’s as it should be: the movie series reshaped ideas of box office success and even spawned a religion. In an interview with WebMD, Fisher herself acknowledged the inability to get out from Leia’s shadow:

Have I gotten past it? I wasn’t aware that I had! I am Princess Leia, no matter what. If I were trying to get a good table, I wouldn’t say I wrote Postcards [From the Edge, her best-selling first novel]. Or, if I’m trying to get someone to take my check and I don’t have ID, I wouldn’t say: “Have you seen Harry Met Sally?” Princess Leia will be on my tombstone.

But I hope the appreciations don’t skimp on Carrie Fisher, writer and wit. Not only was she a highly thought-of script doctor, said to have punched up “Sister Act” and “The Wedding Singer,” she was incredibly quick with a line. Even when it came to talking about script doctoring: because studios could steal her ideas before hiring her, she thought of the trade as “life-wasting events.”

Other lines found their way into her works, such as “Wishful Drinking” and her latest, “The Princess Diarist.” The daughter of Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds knew she was born with a silver spoon: “I was street smart, but unfortunately the street was Rodeo Drive,” she observed. And that Hollywood was about surface: “You can’t find true affection in Hollywood because everyone does the fake affection so well.”

She was refreshingly honest. Several years ago, I spoke to her when she co-hosted “The Essentials” on Turner Classic Movies. I nervously asked her about some of her own films, which were anything but “essential” — “Under the Rainbow” or “The Man With One Red Shoe,” among others. She jumped at the opportunity for self-deprecation.

“I did one called ‘Time Guardian,’ just because I wanted to go to Australia, and I did one called, um — oh, God, I don’t even know, it’s an Agatha Christie movie, because I wanted to go to Israel,” she told me.

That was “Appointment with Death” (1988). Which led to another funny story.

“We all drove around in cars with a sign on them that said ‘Appointment with Death’ — in Israel — and nobody ever made a joke until we got out of the country,” she said.

She added, “I’ve made films that are so bad there are cutaways to ashtrays to no reason, and you think there’s going to be a meaning to the ashtray later on and there isn’t.”

She was brave — her “fuck you” to people who mocked her figure should be replayed to anyone who desires an idealized woman (though, sadly, many of those people are in the entertainment business) — and funny and warm and a pretty good actress, too.

God damn you, 2016.


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