In this vintage interview with Carrie Fisher, she discusses what it was like to grow up a daughter to Hollywood royalty, making it big herself in Star Wars, and what's next.
Carrie on growing up!
by Douglas Thompson in Hollywood
Carrie Fisher lights up another cigarette and, in a voice that sounds like the deep, rich buzz of grinding coffee beans, reflects on a time long, long ago when banner headlines told of her birth to Hollywood royalty. Now, a very rich princess herself from the Star Wars film trilogy, she looks back with wisecracking cynicism at the years when she was known only as the daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and crooner Eddie Fisher.
At 28, with her marriage to songsmith Paul Simon waiting to get on the calendar of the Los Angeles divorce courts, after a miscarriage and flirtations with various consciousness-raising movements, Carrie feels she’s growing up — something she believes she has done against the odds.
'You're not allowed to grow up with parents who are famous and then get into one of the biggest movies of all time and run around with famous people — it’s resented after a while,’ she says.
photo: Born to Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, the ‘dream couple’ of the Fifties, Carrie Fisher learned the price of fame.
Photo: Carrie as Princess Leia in ‘Star Wars’, two years after her 1975 film debut in ‘Shampoo’ (left) with Warren Beatty.
Photo: As Robert Powell’s fiancee in ‘Frankenstein’, on ITV on Thursday 27 December, Carrie is still trying to shake off that Princess Leia image and forget a broken marriage.
Carrie is sharp, quickwitted, with a cruel streak of humour that she uses to hide her childhood bitterness. She is just 5ft 1 in tall, with a rounded face that was not complemented by the head-set hairdo she was given as Princess Leia in Star Wars, the smash 1977 film that you can see on ITV on Sunday 30 December. But things began to change with The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and, by Return of the Jedi (1983), she was doing a sexy number in a harem outfit, waiting for Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) to free her from her chains and the slobbering alien villain Jabba the Hutt.
When she can, Carrie lives in a one-room pine-panelled log cabin that she rather grandly calls a lodge’, high up a canyon in the Hollywood hills. She is at present looking for something bigger in Beverly Hills, a house she can ‘fix up', and her price range is around 1,500,000 dollars.
Earlier this year, when she split up with the Simon of Simon and Garfunkel after less than a year’s marriage, she plunged into work and also into losing her Princess Leia image. She is being seen in American cinemas at present in Garbo Talks, with Anne Bancroft, shortly in the romantic comedy The Man With One Red Shoe and is working on Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters with an impressive cast. For Yorkshire Television this year, Carrie made Frankenstein, playing Robert Powell's long-suffering fiancee — you can see that film on ITV on Thursday 27 December and the documentary Star Wars: The Making of a Saga, the following day.
It is now 10 years since she made her film debut, as the teenager seducing Warren Beatty and, very un-Princess Leia-like, uttering a four-letter word in Shampoo, to her mother’s disapproval.
But mother and daughter are close, although Carrie admits: ‘Debbie remains the girl-next-door, whereas I live somewhere down the street.’
There is, she says, no chance of a reconciliation with Paul Simon. She will not be drawn on what went wrong, but friends believe it had a lot to do with geography. Simon likes New York and solitude. Carrie prefers Los Angeles, where she is now planning to put down her roots.
It will be like going home. Carrie’s parents were the 'dream couple’ of the Fifties. Mother was the film star, the sweetheart of Singin' in the Rain (1952) and the heroine of The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964). Father was the curly-haired idol who sang Oh Mein Papa and many others. Carrie was conceived while they were both filming the aptly titled movie Bundle of Joy (1956). But the joy vanished two years later when her father ran off with the family’s closest friend, Elizabeth Taylor. Debbie, Eddie, Liz and, later, Dick (Richard Burton) were headline fodder for more than 10 years.
Carrie's mother married wealthy shoe manufacturer Harry Karl. Her father married and divorced Taylor and found himself in an abyss of alcohol and drugs. Their daughter hides the scars with remarks such as: 'There are a lot of parallels with me and Princess Leia. Dad goes off to the dark side and Mom marries a millionaire.
‘I saw what the media did to my parents, especially to my father, and how seriously they took it. They weren’t really parents — they were newspaper copy. My brother [Todd, 26] and I grew up on the “Map of the Stars’ Homes”. We played games on the tourists. If they shot stills, we ran. If they shot movies, we stood still. I developed a phobia about being photographed that I didn’t get over until Star Wars.
‘My brother and I were products of a broken home. No, a broken mansion. Mom was away a lot on location or in Las Vegas. Teams of people brought us up.
At 13, I was singing in nightclubs. I went directly from the arena of Debbie-and-Eddie to the arena of Star Wars movies. Really, they’re like cowboys and Indians in space.’
As for being typecast as Princess Leia, Carrie is working hard to prevent that with roles in classics such as Frankenstein. She has been asked repeatedly to star in her own television series and been tempted with the accolade of the title The Carrie Fisher Show. But she turned it down. 'I said not right now,’ she says.
'It's a very long commitment. Star Wars, in effect, was a series and I've only just finished that.’
Photo: Happier days for Carrie Fisher and songwriter husband Paul Simon, who were later to split up after less than a year. There’s no chance of a reconciliation, says Carrie.
[Source: TV Times 12/22/1984, P.146-148]