The humanity and humor of Carrie Fisher
“Some crappy dessert. Anything. I’ll take it all.”
That was Carrie Fisher ordering a midafternoon snack at the Cannes Film Festival in May, where she was doing interviews for “Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds,” a documentary about her mother; Fisher confided that she had wanted to make the film for the past few years because, as she explained, “my mother had been sort of declining, and I didn’t
Eknow how much longer she would be performing.”
In a cruel, cosmic twist Fisher herself would no doubt appreciate with her distinctive brand of gallows humor, she wound up going first — on Tuesday, ahead of the mother whose multi-hyphenated gifts (singer-dancer-actress) and marriage to Eddie Fisher catapulted Carrie into fame that never seemed to fit her entirely comfortably.
Reynolds, it turns out, passed away Wednesday.
Carrie went into the family business as an actress, vaulting from off-screen
EHollywood royalty to the on-screen version as a generation’s most revered space princess, along the way picking up and dropping a drug habit, turning it all into fodder for one of the finest, funniest show business memoirs ever written, albeit in the form of a semi-autobiographical novel. Movie fans may consider “Postcards From the Edge” a piquant Meryl Streep comedy, but writers worship the book for the same tough, wry selfawareness Fisher brought to her script-doctoring work (including uncredited improvements to multiple “Star Wars” sequels), her one-woman show, “Wishful Drinking,” and her actual memoir, the just-published “The Princess Diarist.”
Happily enough, Carrie Fisher turned out to be, not an Important Figure or Towering Intellect but, of all things, a person — whose mix of forthrightness and humor were on full, disarming display as she nibbled at a plate of petits fours and shared a dish of vanilla ice cream with her beloved French bulldog, Gary.
Fisher will be duly remembered for her wit, her intelligence, her lacerating self-awareness and her status as a pop culture legend in one of the most pivotal films of the late 20th century (and beyond). But it’s her willingness to bring lacerating candor to even her most private struggles that will be her most meaningful legacy.
“The great thing about it is when a 14-year-old comes up and says, ‘I found out I was bipolar, and my mom told me that Princess Leia is bipolar as well,’ ” Fisher said, adding that “anyone who has this illness is heroic.”
Carrie Fisher and a stormtrooper in May 1980. Associated Press file