Carrie Fisher's life is an open book. Actually four, plus an autobiographical stage show.
Even when changing names to protect the guilty, Fisher writes and speaks on what she knows, and it isn't always pretty. From growing up Hollywood royalty to nearly burning out with drugs, depression and bipolar disorder, Fisher tells it like it was, as candid as she is funny.
Fisher is attending Star Wars Celebration V this weekend in Orlando, where she'll again be revered for playing Princess Leia in George Lucas' blockbuster Star Wars franchise. She'll meet that "small, merry band of stalkers" that she once sarcastically thanked Lucas for, and love it.
In a telephone interview, Fisher, 53, discussed her afterlife as Leia, the benefits of electroshock therapy and the kidnapping threat she forgot for 20 years, until now.
How many Star Wars Celebrations have you attended?
Honestly, I don't know. I know I've been there at least once or twice. But I'm not sure because I'm older now and I've had electroconvulsive therapy. I only did that so I'd have an excuse about the memory thing.
Since you bring it up, how's therapy going?
I like ECT. It's not like any depiction I've ever seen, in any media. They always depict it as a kind of punishment, but it's a really viable treatment option. I should've done it long ago. It's sort of like hyperspace for the psyche: "I just got to lightspeed in my subconscious. And, boy, are my arms tired."
What is it like to walk into a convention and feel that Jedi love?
It's freaky. I mean, I like to live life off to one slant, to see how bizarre it is. That's about as bizarre as it gets. It's kind of nice that people get all hooked up into it. It sort of keeps them children.
Star Wars . . . has permeated every area of our culture. Now we even have Darth Vader robbing banks. I'm sure they'll come up with some kind of Star Wars douche, eventually. Leia's face has been on a lot of stuff but she would be on that: Eau de Alderaan.
What should Star Wars fans NOT do when they meet you?
Rob my bank. No, they can do whatever they want. I'm a very interested observer of the whole thing. It's a really amazing phenomenon. I'm no more a part of it than they are. I'm a different part, but we're all immersed in it. My immersion is a little more inadvertent but not much.
What was inadvertent about it?
I never intended to be this thing. I did this movie I thought would be great, but I never thought I'd become . . . well, I'm not an icon, but the movie is iconic. There was no way to anticipate something like that.
Have you ever resented fame as Princess Leia?
Sexually. (laughs) I didn't want to ever give anyone the anecdote: "I (had sex with) Princess Leia." Given that I did the movie when I was 19 that cut me off almost right away. I went into long-term relationships almost immediately. Had I had that instinct to be promiscuous — which I didn't but could've in a rebellion against (her mother Debbie Reynolds) — it just wouldn't have flown.
At a tribute to George Lucas you thanked him for that "small, merry band of stalkers" he provided you . . .
You know what I'd forgotten? I had a kidnapping threat on (The) Empire (Strikes Back). The FBI thought it was a viable threat that came out of Vegas or something. They were going to kidnap me and make George pay ransom, like giving them some points on the movie or something. So I had Scotland Yard staying with me (while filming in England), which was sort of awkward given that I had kind of a lively lifestyle.
Anyway, I don't talk about it much. Maybe I blocked it. I think I was too young to take it deeply seriously. So, there. You got a good anecdote that I haven't told in about 20 years.
Thanks. Do you ever think your candor offers TMI?
Sure, but I talk about myself behind my back. I sometimes find myself as annoying as someone else might. It's like, who asked?
But most of the stuff that I talk about, my main intent initially was to not have anything to be ashamed of. I did have certain things that commonly one is ashamed of talking about: drug addiction and romantic depression. I didn't want it to have that power over me. If I can admit it then I have power over it. If everybody knows I might (relapse), then I really, probably can't.
Would confession work without a sense of humor?
Nope. Then it really would have been embarrassing. At least I can make my admissions amusing. . . . Really, my grandmother took all the charm and romance out of self-pity for me. So, I do whatever I can to avoid that.
Well, good luck in Orlando. But, really, what could go wrong?
What could go wrong is that you could run into "crazy fan." There are some people who have really made Star Wars their life or something. That's not easy to come across. You feel bad for them, but they don't feel bad for themselves. They're very unstable in a way that I don't relate to . . . yet.
So, the ECT patient thinks Star Wars fans can be unstable?
Yeah, I think I should hand out some coupons if I run into them.
Steve Persall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at tampabay.com/blogs/movies.