Carrie Fisher Dishes on Life, Writing and Star Wars in Cherry Hill Visit
The author and actress famous for her portrayal of Princess Leia speaks to a packed house at the Katz JCC.
It didn’t take long for Carrie Fisher to get her first Princess Leia question at her Q&A session at the annual Bank of America Festival of Arts, Books and Culture at the Katz JCC Thursday night.
In fact, it was the first question out of interviewer Marianne Aleardi’s mouth—would Fisher reprise her role for the just-announced seventh film in the Star Wars series?
“Yes, as Jewish Princess Leia—it’s going to be a kosher planet,” she joked, then waved that off. “No, I think I’ll marry Han, we’ll have a lot of trouble and I’ll leave him for Lando.”
But when Aleardi, editor of SJ Magazine, pressed beyond the humor, Fisher said the plan really is for cast members from the original trilogy to appear as older versions of their characters.
“I keep thinking that’s been made clear, but I guess it hasn’t,” she said.
From there, Fisher and Aleardi led an audience of about 600 through a wide-ranging conversation that touched on everything from Fisher’s struggle with mental health issues to her family life to her career as a film star and author.
Virtually nothing was off-limits, and Fisher said that’s by design—she’s become known as being a writer willing to bare her soul, and part of that comes from growing up in the public’s eye.
“I just always wanted my version of things,” she said.
That’s not to say her version is any different than reality. Fisher talked candidly about her manic depression, saying she’s found some relief via electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)—colloquially, shock treatments—which she gets every six weeks or so.
Fisher contrasted the dramatic portrayals of ECT in television and movies to the real thing. She’s experienced some memory loss as a result of the treatments, but their benefit has far outweighed the cost, and her only regret was not pushing past the stigma associated with the procedure and getting treatment earlier.
“I could’ve avoided so much pain,” she said.
Likewise, Fisher's well-documented struggles with addiction aren’t something she shies away from, including doing drugs with her late father.
She joked, “We did coke together, and I don’t even like coke.”
“I’m not ashamed of it,” Fisher said. “It’s heroic to be able to confront it and live with it.”
Inevitably, though, the conversation—and questions from the audience—steered away from her personal life and back in the direction of Star Wars.
Fisher gave her only truly evasive answer of the night when asked by an audience member whether she and Harrison Ford ever hooked up off-screen as they had on-screen.
“What do you think?” Fisher responded.
She went on to talk about the iconic moments—finding out after her kiss with Mark Hamill that Leia and Luke were brother and sister “was weird,” she said—and the iconic images, especially Princess Leia’s slave girl costume, the copper bikini she wore at the beginning of Return of the Jedi.
When producer George Lucas showed her the sketches for that piece, Fisher said she almost thought it was a joke.
“I did not want to wear that metal bikini,” she said. “I didn’t find out until later I was a pinup.”
She still feels a certain pressure about looks nearly 30 years after Return of the Jedi’s release, despite her best efforts to stay above it, Fisher said. The anonymity of the internet’s made that even worse, as people can fire blind criticism without any fear, Fisher said.
“There’s just no end to it…they can be vicious,” she said. “People can be meaner about you than you can be about yourself.”
While she may be better known for her time on screen, her career as an author, which has seen her publish seven books and produce a number of plays and screenplays, has ultimately been a greater source of pride.
“I never really thought of myself as an actress,” she said. “People that act, they travel, they become these other characters. I always bring the characters to me—it’s too exhausting to travel.”