Early Tuesday morning, we lost Carrie Fisher, after a heart attack earlier in the week. There are very few actresses who have become such massively iconic figures that their passing leaves gaping holes behind them. But, in my opinion Carrie Fisher is one of them.
Actress, writer, mental health advocate, and a star that almost everyone respected, Fisher sprang into the spotlight with Star Wars, and remained there. Her role as Leia might be what most people remember her for, but she had a hand in writing, or improving the screenplays for a number of very popular films.
However, my deepest respect has to go out to Fisher for her role in raising mental health awareness, and the way that she treated being bi-polar. When talking about her own mental health, Fisher was blunt, outspoken and for the most part disarming:
I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on. Better me than you.
I get lots of awards for being mentally ill. Apparently, I am better at being mentally ill than almost anything else I’ve ever done. Seriously – I have a shelf of awards for being bipolar.
When it came to interacting with the fans, Fisher was well known for having embraced her role as Leia. She handled the attention the role brought her with grace, humor and an acceptance that few could have managed. For me though, her humor was best shown in her tweets, and social appearances. In September this year, she tweeted:
The only exercise I get lately is running off at the mouth & jumping to conclusions…..
And it is for these kinds of quotes that I am going to remember her best (excluding quotes from films). But, while we’re remembering this amazing woman, I felt that I should share some of my favorite on-screen memories…
Princess Leia – Star Wars IV: A New Hope (1977)
For the vast majority of people growing up when I did, the first of the Star Wars films wasn’t the first time we saw Carrie Fisher playing the role that made her famous. However, it remains her most pivotal role, in my opinion.
Once reported as saying that she would
…go hang out with a bunch of robots for a few months and then return to my life and try to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. – source Business Insider
On the character of Leia, she has said:
Leia is not a real character. She is more of a caricature, and is somewhat one-dimensional. It’s not really possible to write out a list of Princess Leia’s likes and dislikes. I do know her favorite color, though, it’s white. She wears white all the time. But that doesn’t help me much. – source IMDB
The Mystery Woman – Blues Brothers (1980)
The Blues Brothers duo of Jake and Elwood Blues originated from minds of Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi, and first appeared on “Saturday Night Live”. Bringing great music to a TV audience, it was far from inevitable that they could translate that popularity into film. And, indeed, despite it’s all-star cast from music, film, and television, the film was far from a cinematic success.
Yet, it remains one of the biggest cult classics of all time, filled with amazing music, and some great guest appearances. None of these is more memorable than Carrie Fisher’s role as the ‘Mystery Woman’, who spends most of her on-screen time either preparing to, or actually trying to kill Jake. For me this is one of the strangest roles in the film, because it takes a very long time to find out why she wants Jake dead. (And honestly, with the way he treats her, I can almost sympathize with her).
Princess Leia – Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens(2015)
When Disney announced they were planning to do a new Star Wars film, that would follow on from the original trilogy, I was thrilled. But that was nothing compared to the joy of hearing that many of the original cast would be returning to reprise their roles.
Most importantly, we were going to get to see what happened to two of the characters we loved most from the series, Han and Leia. It was a shock to see how much time had passed for the two of them, and how the events between “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens” had changed them. But, when Han and Leia are reunited, it’s very clear that the love between them is still very much there.
I personally think this is one of the best performances Carrie Fisher ever put together, and gave us a story that was well overdue.