Oh, 2016. Christmas is, if you’re lucky, usually filled with drinks, turkey and joy but this year, all that fills our newsfeed is loss. The deaths of too many icons, taken too soon. Stars who captivated us with a lyric, a melody, inspired and made us laugh till we cried or, in the case of Carrie Fisher, made us want to kick ass while dressed as an adored princess. When it was announced that the Star Wars legend was hospitalised due to heart trouble at the weekend, I held my breath. Not another death, I thought, still grieving George Micheal. She was momentarily fine, but fate decided otherwise, and it was announced tonight, at just 60, she passed away.
I was late to the Star Wars game. I haven’t even seen the remakes (they’ll never hold a candle to the first two films), but my favourite thing about the originals was always Carrie Fisher. I’ll head up the Carrie Fisher game forevermore. Yes, I know Harrison Ford was the shiz and all that back then, but Fisher made so many impressionable young women want to be a badass and a princess, and for that, she should be immensely proud. This was no ordinary princess. Princess Leia was iconic (and not just because of a certain gold bikini, thank god). She was smart, savvy, quick-witted and took no prisoners; she was a hero in her own right. This translated off-screen as Fisher bore so many traits of her infamous character – she simply didn’t take crap. Even this year, as she embraced all the Star Wars fandom yet again and promoted a new memoir – The Princess Diarist – she remained herself and was unapologetic for it. The story in which she insisted on bringing her dog, Gary to every interview and proclaimed “Gary’s bored!” when she became frustrated with the discussion is my favourite tale of the year – you don’t get to bore Fisher and get away with it; she had her own rules (as you’ll see from her words below).
No matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.
Her name is synonymous with Star Wars, yet she was so much more than that one character. In a varied career that spanned decades, she was never afraid to stretch her capabilities with roles in The Wedding Singer, Hannah and her Sisters and most recently, a brilliant turn in Sharon Horgan’s Catastrophe. She was also a screenwriter, mental health advocate and survivor (who was always open about her struggle with addiction) and, lest we forget, the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher – she was screen royalty but sharp around the edges. The large part of her appeal, to me, was her relatability; she was accomplished, talented, but her realness and penchant for zero bullsh*t always shined through. She had an affair with co-star Harrison Ford and admitted that she didn’t feel good enough or pretty enough for the God-like figure – though we have to insist she was more than his equal.
“I looked over at Harrison. A hero’s face — a few strands of hair fell over his noble, slightly furrowed brow,” Fisher recalled in her memoir. “How could you ask such a shining specimen of a man to be satisfied with the likes of me?” Because you’re Carrie Goddamn Fisher, that’s why. Extraordinarily talented, complex and brilliant and the world (and yes, the Galaxy) will be a lot less brighter without you in it.