Note: I actually started this post back in September, but somehow never got around to finishing it. In hindsight, I wish I had. Carrie might have seen it if I had.
Like most people reading this, I first became aware of Carrie Fisher when she appeared as Princess Leia in the Star Wars films. I got a kick out of seeing her in The Blues Brothers, then in Postcards from the Edge (which she wrote), her one-woman show Wishful Drinking, the newer Star Wars movies, and the occasional interview or talk show appearance. She was always witting, charming, intelligent, and beautiful.
The Wishful Drinking show is where I really gained my greatest appreciation for Carrie. In it, she talks about the down-side to growing up the child of Hollywood royalty, relationship issues, substance abuse problems, mental health struggles, and dealing with the unflattering remarks from Star Wars fans who expected her to be as gorgeous and thin at age 60 as she did during Star Wars at age 19. Dealing with all that would probably drive most of us toward substance abuse and mental health problems. Carrie shared all this, not in a "woe is me" style but very matter-of-factly with insight and humor. It was really an impressive show.
As a writer, the thing that impresses me the most about Carrie is that she was regularly consulted to help improve movie scripts. She started doing this during the original Star Wars movies for George Lucas, and later for many other big names in Hollywood. Often she did the "script doctor" work without on-screen credit. It wouldn't surprise me if there are a number of films still in the pipeline with her "fingerprints" on them. I suppose she will live on for a while through that.
After her appearance in the recent Star Wars sequel and the release of her book The Princess Diarist, I felt really happy for Carrie. She was finally getting the recognition she deserved for her talent. I had hoped this would revitalize her career and looked forward to so much more from her in the future. Sadly, that will not be the case.
I had long wanted to meet Carrie, to thank her for all her hard work, to let her know I understood her struggle with bipolar disorder, and to tell her that even at age 60 she was still a beautiful woman. I also wanted to congratulate her for finding her way through all the trials and tribulations in her life, and coming out the other side smiling and laughing (rather than bitter and cynical). How she dealt with her problems is an excellent example for all of us.
I will miss you, Carrie. Thank you for your written and on-screen work. Thank you for being brave enough to shine a light on your troubles, and show the rest of us how to do it. You deserved every bit of success you had, and much more.