Close Encounters of the Celebrity Kind...
Carrie Fisher: Still Funny After All These Years
Expanded Edition of 12-19-08 Chicago Tribune Interview
by Richard Knight, Jr.
Fisher in a recent portrait by Michael Lamont, the cover of her mini memoir and with mom Debbie Reynolds in 2006
When confronted with a famous wit possessed by the likes of author, actress and former tabloid party girl Carrie Fisher, daughter
of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, permanent member of the Hollywood firmament for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the Star
Wars sagas, former wife of songwriting legend Paul Simon, not to mention a one-time alcoholic and drug addict (chronicled in her
bestselling “Postcards from the Edge” book and film), one learns quickly to simply set up the verbal pins so this modern day Dorothy
Parker can knock ‘em over.
Fisher has been doing that in her one-woman show, “Wishing Drinking,” a tour through her Believe It Or Not life and has now
adapted the show into a no-holds barred mini-memoir of the same title. And nothing, not even electroshock therapy to combat her
bipolar disorder has dulled Fisher’s razor sharp wit which is as dry as the martini in the empty glass clutched in the hand of the
passed out Princess Leia pictured on the cover of “Wishful Drinking.”
KNIGHT AT THE MOVIES (KATM): In your book you write, “You might be thinking that a lot of the stories I’m telling you are over the
top but you can’t imagine what I’m leaving out.” How about a little more dirt?
CARRIE FISHER (CF): (laughs) There’s so much dirt – it’s just unending. Let me think – well, I was engaged to Danny Ackroyd. On
Blues Brothers he proposed in the trailer on set. He was forcing me to eat because I was very thin in those days – no longer –and I
inhaled a Brussels sprout and I started choking. He thought I was laughing and then he saw that I was dying and he did the
Heimlich maneuver and then like ten minutes later he asked me to marry him and I thought, “I better marry him. What if that
happens again?” We had rings, we got blood tests, the whole shot. But then I got back together with Paul Simon.
KATM: Can you talk about the discussion you had with George Lucas about Princess Leia’s underwear during Star Wars?
CF: I put the white dress on and they brought me to George and he looked at me and he said, “You can’t wear a bra underneath
that dress.” So I said, “Why?” And he said, “Because, there’s no underwear in space.” Then when he came to the show he saw me
tell the story and he came backstage and he explained why you can’t wear underwear in space so I added that to the show and now
KATM: What was his reasoning?
CF: Because when you go into space you become weightless, okay? So far so good but then your body expands but your bra
doesn't and so you get strangled by your bra – which like I say in the book I think would make a fantastic obit. So no matter how I
go, I’ve made all my friends promise that it will be reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my bra.
KATM: (laughing) That’s great, I love that. I know you regret the Princess Leia hairdo – who wouldn’t –
CF: I don’t necessarily regret it but I don’t think I would do it again.
KATM: It wouldn’t have been your choice, then.
KATM: But what about making the Star Wars pictures in general. When you look back, do you regret that?
CF: Oh, not at all, what a silly thing to regret. They were tons of fun to make; they’re great films. What’s the downside are very
high class problems. If I complained about that I’d be a real asshole.
KATM: That’s a rich people’s problem.
CF: Totally. It’s nosebleed high.
KATM: You’ve made a lot of other movies aside from the Star Wars pictures, is there another one that you’d like people to take a
CF: Shampoo. When Harry Met Sally. Hannah and Her Sisters.
KATM: I really like you in a little known movie called Garbo Talks.
CF: Oh yeah and then there’s This Is Your Life. Yes, Nora Ephron’s first movie – which I did with Danny.
KATM: Oh, right! That is my partner’s favorite movie.
KATM: Yes, he loves it and watches it a lot. Now, what about your writing, would “Postcards From the Edge” be your proudest
achievement or this new book?
CF: Actually I think the best writing I did was in my book, “Delusions of Grandma.” It’s probably the saddest one of my books but it
has some of my better writing in it.
KATM: Why does that stand out for you?
CF: Why? I just wrote a lot of visual metaphors that were really good and that I am proud of. “I have a strain of malaria only
caught by kings.” I don’t know, I just have things in it that are real trippy. It was right after Bryan left me so I was devastated.
KATM: You’re famous for your wit (she giggles) so I’m wondering when they do the Carrie Fisher Roast – who do you want on the
CF: Well, friends of mine – I mean, not only friends of mine. David Sedaris who I don’t know – so that would be good. Helen
Fielding, who is a close friend. Salman Rushdie, who is a close friend.
KATM: A very literate table.
CF: There you go. I’d want to find someone who is really tough on me, though so that would be more someone I didn’t know.
Buck Henry, I do know. He might be tough on me.
KATM: You’re also famous for your observations on current events and famous figures. Can I get your thoughts off the top of your
KATM: The economic crisis.
CF: Well…who would have thought that we would have spent trillions of dollars on…maybe it’s not trillions but with Afghanistan and
Iraq and all that…would turn out to bankrupt the country? What a thought, having all these other countries that are basically floating
the mortgage of America. I think it’s awful but what I think it’s done that’s awesome is I think it did coming out of that dark place
where I think we were all very lazy with the George Bush thing and we let that go through or with the Cheney thing –
KATM: Talk about Darth Vadar.
CF: I think it woke us up and that’s why we have Obama. I wasn’t proud of being an America for the last eight years and now I can
at least hold my head up.
KATM: Barack Obama.
CF: I think he’s awesome. I really do. I think he’s classy; I think he’s smart; I think he’s sane. I think he’s just not proving
anything, he doesn’t have all the stuff that Bush had with the Creationism and all this other stuff – its lunacy! So we finally have a
sane person and he’s also not, I think, a pussy hound so we’re not going to have any of the Clinton stuff which is maybe a shame.
KATM: (laughs) But maybe not.
CF: He’s really, really smart. I mean George Bush couldn’t get through one end of the sentence to another without needing a book
and a towel. It’s nice to have someone smart running the country. We have this weird thing in this country now, lately that we want
to elect people that we feel like we would have fun with them at dinner. You know, like Sarah Palin, someone who reminds you of
your cousin. You know, I don’t want someone that reminds me of my cousin running the country, you know? I mean then let’s just
elect Britney Spears or something. I want someone who’s smart and sane wise and reflective and reads books. Who’s smarter than
I am and we have not had that for the last eight years. Ridiculous and the fact that we even had almost a minute of almost going
for Sarah Palin and John McCain was just repulsive. I can’t be real funny about any of this because I don’t think it’s funny.
KATM: You’re right. It’s not funny – but what is funny is another story that you tell in the book.
CF: Oh, the one about George Bush?
KATM: Yeah, yeah.
CF: Well my friend Greg was the only gay Republican drug addict in those days (laughs) so, of course he was my friend. But Greg
was awesome and he would tell these great stories and he shared an office with Bush and Bush had this incredible skill which is that
he can fart at will. Which is something you want a leader of the free world to have. You never know when that might come in handy.
KATM: (laughing) That skill is going to be very handy.
CF: Oh yeah. So, they shared a small office and this was just when Bush was George Sr.’s son and so what he would do is, Greg
would be expecting some people for a meeting and Bush would wait until like two minutes before the meeting, come in the room,
fart, run out and leave Greg inside the fart for when his meeting arrived.
KATM: And now he’s metaphorically done that to our country, hasn’t he?
CF: That’s what I say, yeah? Just like what he’s done to our country today. So yeah, I mean Obama has to sit in George Bush’s
and Dick Cheney’s farts now, clear the air a little bit.
KATM: But at least now, perhaps, there is a window being opened to clear the air a bit – as we continue with the metaphors.
CF: (laughs) Right. But it’s going to take awhile, though. I mean he has to untangle a giant mess. He’s going to need more than
one term. You know, that’s the only thing that’s going to be tough for him is that people are so counting on him to save us – from
ourselves, by the way. I mean, we are our own worst enemy. Not Iran, not Afghanistan. It’s not going to be easy. This is a big
KATM: Now speaking of messes – I’m trying to segue neatly – you mentioned Britney. Having been a former party girl, do you have
advice for these young ladies?
CF: Wear underwear and stay at home.
KATM: But not if you go into space.
CF: (laughs) Yeah, not if you go into space.
KATM: As the daughter of celebrity, is there anyone famous that you would meet that would inspire awe in you?
CF: Well Cary Grant was the one that did do that.
KATM: Right, right, you talk about him in the book. Now in Postcards from the Edge Meryl Streep who plays the character based on
you said, “We’re designed more for public than private.” Does that still hold true?
CF: Yeah. We have a sort of special celebrity gene, you know, that makes us sort of unruly extroverts. You’re a person but a lot of
time you’re a persona, you’re someone that acts like themselves in front of other people and you talk about yourself behind your
KATM: Now your mother seems a force of nature.
KATM: But you’re also a force of nature.
CF: May the force of nature be with us!
KATM: I mean you must be to have survived all the challenges you’ve encountered.
CF: Well what are my choices, though? You know if you live long enough you’re a survivor.
KATM: Would that be your personal philosophy?
CF: Survive. Stay alive. And learn. Stay teachable. What I say in the book is, “Some of us find Heaven by backing away from