The actress and writer Carrie Fisher spent her entire life in the public eye. The daughter of two entertainment industry icons, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, she grew up in Beverly Hills when it was the epicenter of Hollywood glamour. Her parents’ relationships were frequently tabloid fodder, and she was one of the more popular kids at Beverly Hills High. She later found fame in a galaxy, far, far away as Princess Leia in Star Wars and became an unlikely sex symbol with her “take no prisoners” attitude. Fisher appeared in two critically acclaimed New York-based films in the eighties—Hannah and Her Sisters and When Harry Met Sally—before her acting career fizzled. She had a second successful career as an author, writing autobiographical novels such as Postcards from the Edge and “punching” up the dialogue in the screenplays of major feature films with wit and humor. In the final act of her career, Fisher successfully toured with her one woman show, Wishful Drinking; had recurring roles on several TV shows; and reprised her role as Leia in the Star Wars' sequels.
Weller recounts how Fisher made a slow journey from early struggles with drug abuse to accepting her bipolar disorder diagnosis. After Fisher survived several overdoses and some tumultuous relationships, she began to look inward to find the root cause of her behavior. She discovered that she inherited a propensity for depression and addictive behavior from her father. After the birth of her daughter Billie, Fisher took the initiative to control her manic episodes with prescription drugs. Later in her life, she became a fierce advocate for others who suffered from mental illness and addiction, and frequently spoke of her problems in public, including the weight gain caused by most anti-depressants. Her therapy dog, Gary Fisher, was often by her side.
Fisher’s last year on earth, 2016, was the busiest of her career. The Last Jedi was filmed in the first half of the year and her last memoir, The Princess Diarist, was published in November. She started writing an advice column for The Guardian. Returning from a trip to London to film scenes from the Amazon/Channel 4 show Catastrophe, Fisher collapsed near the end of a transatlantic flight and went into cardiac arrest. She would never wake up. Tragically, her mother Debbie Reynolds passed away the day after her daughter. A large cross section of Hollywood stars came to mourn the actresses in private and public memorials after their deaths.
Weller’s book is a fitting memorial to Fisher’s life as an artist and an activist. As reflected in her portrayal of General Leia in the Star Wars sequels, Carrie Fisher’s legacy endures as a fearless female role model.