Actress Carrie Fisher has had her share of meteoric rises and falls.
She skyrocketed to fame in her early 20s after portraying Princess Leia Organa in the original Star Wars trilogy of the 1970s and ’80s. Yet she also battled drug abuse during that time, an experience she recounted with a biting sense of humor in her 1987 semiautobiographical novel, Postcards from the Edge.
The book landed on The New York Times’ bestsellers list and was adapted into a movie. It also inspired her to write other books as well as screenplays, and she became a go-to script doctor in Hollywood. Since Star Wars, she has acted nearly every year but held only minor roles in movies and TV shows.
And throughout the years, she has remained wryly blunt about her constant fight with addictions and mental illnesses, becoming an outspoken advocate with a sharp wit. So ongoing are her struggles that Fisher has been recently hospitalized for bipolar disorder, canceling her upcoming appearance at the Center for Family Services' fifteenth annual Old Bags Luncheon. Replacing her as keynote speaker for the event, held March 7 at The Breakers, will be her mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, who also spoke at the benefit in 2007.
Before she stepped down, Fisher briefly updated Palm Beach Illustrated about her latest ventures, including why she wanted to speak at the luncheon in the first place:
“Because I am an old bag,” she says dryly.
What kind of projects are you working on?
I’ve outlined another book to write. I’m writing a series with a friend of mine for another friend of mine. And I’m working somewhat on a musical. … We were going to make a musical of Postcards from the Edge, and now we’re not. What we’re working on now are the songs. I have a lot of lyrics from many, thousands of years ago—and the intervening years—because I have a kind of obsessive-compulsive need to make things rhyme.
Disney is going to continue the Star Wars saga, producing movies set to hit theaters starting in 2015. Can you confirm whether you’ll reprise the role of Princess Leia?
What do you think Princess Leia is like today?
Elderly. She’s in an intergalactic old folks’ home [laughs].
I just think she would be just like she was before, only slower and less inclined to be up for the big battle.
And still wearing the bagel buns?
The bagel buns and the bikini, because probably she has sundowners syndrome. At sundown, she thinks that she’s 20-something. And she puts it on and gets institutionalized.
You’ve overcome a lot of challenges in your life. Where do you draw strength or inspiration to move forward?
I have friends that have the same issues, so it’s best to talk about it. You’re only as sick as your secrets. If it is a secret—anything that makes you sort of shame-based—if you can claim it, it has a lot of less power over you. It is a lot easier for me [to do], because I am really open about what I’m going through. I’ve been in therapy since I was 15. … I have an ongoing condition, so I have to take my medication, and I have things that I do to keep abreast of that and not let that get away with me.
I hang around with other people that have similar issues. We can help each other. And I go to 12-step stuff, and I think that’s very, very effective.
What would you say your life motto is?
It would just be not to lie. It’s really to be honest about what you’re going through. And really, have as good a time as you can.
What other goals do you have, career or otherwise?
I want a really nice bedroom. I have a nice house, and I have the worse room in it.
Why is that?
Because I’m so giving [laughs]. I wanted my daughter to have [a nice room]. At this point, she entertains more than I do.
What do I still want to achieve? All the things I just said—finish what I start. I’d like to finish another book.
There are still other places I’d like to travel, [like] Tibet. I still haven’t seen the aurora borealis, which is extremely upsetting. I’d like to go to the sing-sings in New Guinea. Those are on my bucket list.
You mentioned you wanted a new bedroom. What would your dream bedroom be like?
This sounds filthy, but I entertain in my bedroom. So it would have to be pretty big—a lot bigger so that I can hide my elliptical somewhere.