Carrie, Carrie, Carrie I can't let you go...
This morning we got the news that nerds the world over have been dreading for the past few days. Carrie Fisher, our Princess, had passed away. She had suffered a massive heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles last week, and was taken to hospital on landing. For a moment there was hope that 2016 would not claim another of our idols as her condition was reported as stable. But it was not to be, and this morning the world mourns her loss. And I thought I was sad when David Bowie died!
Carrie Fisher was truly a force to be reckoned with. And I mean that in both the sense of the Force that surrounds us and binds the Star Wars Universe together and an unstoppable force - moving, influencing and changing everything in its path. I will always love Carrie Fisher for her brutal honesty. She pulled no punches whether it was regarding her struggles with drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness or her unreal Hollywood life. Her feminine intelligence and comedic wit was unparalleled, satire often dripping delightfully from her acid tongue. Carrie told it like it is, and if you didn’t like it or were offended – too bad. The Force was strong with this one.
My first introduction to Carrie Fisher was of course her portrayal of Princess Leia in Star Wars. As it probably was for most of you. Leia is the ultimate female fighter. Her home planet is blown up, she loses everything, and she seeming brushes it off, hiding her horror and pain under a cool veneer of awesomeness. While Luke is blubbering away at the loss of Obi-Wan, Leia comforts him, again forgoing her own feelings to help another. To further prove her bad ass credentials, when one of her Commanders later sees her and tries to awkwardly empathise with her over the destruction of Alderaan and the loss of her family, our Princess warrior shuns his sympathy stating simply ‘We all have our sorrows, Commander.’ While this off handedness in character may be attributed to George Lucas’ complete inability to write for women – it works. What a woman! You wouldn’t want to mess with this Princess. She’s tougher than any of them, knows how to handle a blaster and can cut you down to size with only a few words. This is what I loved about her. Still love about her. She made Princess Leia her own despite – or more likely because of - Lucas’ lack film direction. Carrie held the Princess Leia torch for 40 years, and was well aware that once Star Wars proved so successful that she would always be known as the woman with that hair do. But she rolled with it. She played with it. She accepted it and reveled in it.
Yet not only was Carrie Fisher the Actor who brought our kick ass Princess to life - she was an Author of fantastically manic tales, often paralleling her own life through words on the page. Wishful Drinking, Shockaholic, Postcards from the Edge, The Best Awful, and most recently The Princess Diarist, based on journals she had written during the filming of Star Wars. Carrie Fisher was also a much sought after script doctor, called in to try and re-write the wrongs of bad dialog and strengthen female characters, retrieving them from the abyss. As a writer I adore her, and she will be missed more well than we could imagine. You never know though, perhaps she’s hanging out with Yoda, Obi-Wan and the original Anakin. Getting her ghost on, and curling their toes with stories of her outrageous life. I certainly hope so. It is a very sad day for Star Wars fans, and fans of her writing. I was both. It’s a heavy loss. May the Force be with you Carrie. Always.