It’s a sad day around the world with the news that Carrie Fisher has passed away following a heart attack 3 days ago aboard a flight from London to Los Angeles. She was just 60 years old.
When I was 10 I met my first female role model on film; Princess Leia. It would become the role for which Carrie Fisher was most well known. Princess Leia showed us that a woman could be smart, strong and sassy and not actually need rescuing so much as a little help to escape. Just like a man could.
Of her iconic role Fisher once said “I got to be the only girl in an all boy fantasy, and it’s a great role for women. She’s a very proactive character and gets the job done. So if you’re going to get typecast as something, that might as well be it for me.”
Carrie Fisher was the born in 1956, daughter of Hollywood icon Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie FIsher. While she found her world-wide fame in the Star Wars franchise, she was also a well known screenwriter, author and producer. Off screen, she was hilariously witty, strong and very open about her struggles with her mental health and addiction.
Her best selling books Post Cards from the Edge and Wishful Drinking and this years The Princess Diarist showed her open and often acerbic style for which she was well loved by many. The fact she said what she had to say, straight up might have rattled the establishments cages but seeing someone so authentic and owning who they are, warts and all won Fisher even more fans over the years. But it always came back to Leia Organa.
Fisher once joked, “I am Princess Leia, no matter what. If I were trying to get a good table, I wouldn’t say I wrote Postcards. 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.”
The actress was open about suffering from bipolar disorder. In her book and show Wishful Drinking, she said that “living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls” and it’s “something to be proud of, not ashamed of.”
While we saw her on our screens in movies such as When Harry Met Sally, The Blue Brothers, and on television with 30 Rock, Sex and The City and a host of other appearances, it was again in Star Wars that she got our attention. Not least of all for hitting back at critics of her appearance. While no one batted an eye lid at her co-stars Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill, there were people who decided to comment on her aging. In true form Fisher responded “Please stop debating about whether or not I aged well. Unfortunately it hurts all three of my feelings. My body hasn’t aged as well as I have. Blow us.”
She also added that “Youth and beauty are not accomplishments.”
Fisher had completed the filming for the next installment of Star Wars; Episode VIII, she had been living in London for the last 6 months doing filming. It was the on the flight home that she suffered the heart attack that eventually claimed her life.
While writing this and also reading all the tributes to Fisher, I wondered why this and other the celebrity deaths hit us so hard. This year has been filled with more celebrity deaths than I can ever remember. I think we, as the public, feel these losses so deeply because they, or the characters they played, made an indelible mark on who we ‘are’ as people growing up.
Actors or musicians leave little fingerprints of themselves on us at certain times in our lives. They often, through their work, help us through situations or open our eyes to things we never dreamt of before. So when a person who portrayed a character that showed you something else was possible passes you lose a little of that in yourself, for a moment. It is that reason we cry or feel such sorrow over the loss of them.
Social media is filled with some beautiful tributes to this amazing woman, who lived every bit of her unusual life and claimed to be nothing short of who she was; even if other people didn’t like it or even understand it.
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) December 27, 2016
— Bryan Fuller (@BryanFuller) December 27, 2016
And on a lighter note, because those who knew Carrie Fisher would know she would hate all the sadness and seriousness…
— Anna Kendrick (@AnnaKendrick47) December 27, 2016
The last word should go to Fisher’s daughter, Scream Queen star Billie Lourd. “She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly,” Lourd said. “Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.”
She was The Force. The Force is with her.
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