Patricia Sheridan's Breakfast With ... Carrie Fisher
November 12, 2012 5:00 AM
Cylla von Tiedemann
By Patricia Sheridan Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Carrie Fisher will be forever associated with the role of Princess Leia in the original "Star Wars" trilogy, but she's also the daughter of entertainers Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. Remarkably candid about being bipolar, her addictions and rehab, Ms. Fisher is now a successful author, actress and scriptwriter who mined her rich life to entertain others and heal herself with the autobiographical books "Postcards From the Edge" and "Wishful Drinking." Once married to singer Paul Simon, she had a daughter in 1992 with her partner of three years, Bryan Lourd. She is a Christmas ghost in Hallmark Channel's original movie "It's Christmas, Carol!" It airs at 8 p.m. Sunday.
What was Christmas like for you as a child, or did you celebrate Hanukkah?
It was Christmas. We believed in Santa Claus for a really long time because you got an extra present if you believed in Santa Claus. Even though Santa's writing was very much like my Mom's, it's my favorite holiday of the year, hands down.
You play the ghost of Christmas past in "It's Christmas, Carol!" Do you believe the past can haunt the future?
Yeah, completely. I don't know for how long -- until you get Alzheimer's [laughing]. It depends on what is haunting, but yeah, sure.
I'm not a crazy workaholic. I have times when, you know, I compulsively or obsessively work but not generally. I sometimes wish I was. I would get more done. But if you do all that and then you neglect every other part of your life, no.
What movies have made you think about your life and its impact?
Well, "It's a Wonderful Life." That was the main one. I mean, I watch that every year.
Do you believe in spiritual things?
I don't know about life after death. I think that's wishful thinking. But I believe that life is a very strong force, and I don't think it just goes away. It's a lot to have gone. I mean, I had someone die in my house and I don't think all of him left for a while.
I think you had to be brave to open up your life for the world to see in "Wishful Drinking" and "Postcards From the Edge."
I guess so. Sometimes I think, "Why the hell did I do all that?" [laughing] But yeah, I never let it occur to me that it could make some kind of -- I don't know -- difference that I should be ashamed of any of that. I think if it's my truth, and not someone else's, I am going to have a better time with it.
You are very bright, but that aspect of your character doesn't get as much attention.
I think I have a verbal acuity and I'm fast. I don't know, maybe there's a tendency to look at people who come from the background I come from or even an actress and sort of get diminished that way. The way that most people see me is I started that way [as an actress]. Most people see me as Princess Leia. I mean what kind of an IQ could Princess Leia have [laughing]?
But what a pivotal decision to take that role, right?
It definitely was pivotal. It became everything, so that sort of overshadows everything.
Looking back, would you have done it differently?
I don't know, I mean, no, in a way I think it's funny. It's sort of like if there was actually someone who was Minnie Mouse and I could meet her and we could have lunch once a week, we would have a lot to laugh about. But there isn't someone like that. In a way, the only thing I can hope is that I'm not Princess Leia. Princess Leia is me.
Were you stunned how quickly that character became part of the fabric of pop culture?
Well, I don't think I recognized it all at once. You sort of gradually absorb things that are strange like that. I still don't fully understand it. And I think it is confused all up into me.
Did you dream of being a writer, actress or ...?
Well, dream sounds like something that is not necessarily possible. They weren't even dreams. I kind of just went along with what I was. I didn't fall into things, but I slide into them. You probably always have some kind of a choice. I think what I resisted the most in a way was doing the rewriting. I didn't understand what they wanted me to do, and I resisted it.
[Steven] Spielberg asked me to do it initially, to rewrite "Tinker Bell." I didn't understand the job. Also, I never thought I wanted to write a book. They came and said, "Do you want to write a book?" I had to think about that. All these things I didn't pursue.
Your life has just sort of unfolded and you followed, walked the path.
Yeah, which is a horrible thing to think, but having not considered it before, yes, all of it. All of it. Acting -- never wanted to be an actress. I was taken by a friend of my mother's to the set of "Shampoo," and I was an actress. I just kind of had to shape it as I went. But I would find myself doing things that I had not but might as well have chosen. It makes sense looking back. But they weren't choices.
It was just circumstance?
Based on who I was. I mean I did understand that I had a way with words, early. I fell in love with words early on. I would write all the time, and it made me feel better. If I could put it into words it would stay out of emotion. So it was just sort of a safety net. And make them funny. That is sort of abstracting them. So that is what words were for me. They would abstract things that were dangerous to me.
I have heard you enjoy interior design.
Yes, I do. My house is like a collage. At the beginning of my life, there were all these pieces of a puzzle from all over the world. I had gone around the world collecting and then re- assimilating them and putting them together in my house. My house is this sort of art project. It's eccentric. It's home. It is not something I think you would conventionally take pictures of and put in Architectural Digest, though they have done that. My design is sort of humorous, home and humorous.
You have done these kinds of interviews your entire life for different projects. Is it painful?
You know what, it depends on the day. I'm really tired today. You're actually interesting to talk to. I mean, sometimes you get people who ask the same questions and you go sort of on autopilot and that will make you really exhausted. I get invigorated by this kind, when people ask unusual questions and it's not like this happens all the time.