A Force to be reckoned with: Carrie Fisher (1956-2016)

❉ Ange Chan pays tribute to Carrie Fisher –  “The only princess I ever wanted to be.”

The iconic ‘Rebel Rebel’ design by Leka ©

Carrie Fisher, the woman, was as much of a badass as her infamous Star Wars character Leia.  She was warm, witty, scathingly honest, beautiful but not vain, and extremely smart.

Just before Christmas we heard the sad news that Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher had suffered a heart attack on a flight from London to LA. She was treated on board and immediately transferred to hospital once the flight landed. Every day I checked online to hear news concerning her wellbeing. The latest was that she was “stable”.   Love and Jedi mind tricks were duly sent into the galaxy for wishes of a full recovery.  Then came the shocking news of George Michael’s sad demise, yet I still had Carrie on my mind. 

I’ve been a Star Wars fan since the original film was released in 1977 when I was nine years old. She was the ultimate badass, a total legend and quite frankly the only princess I ever wanted to be. As I grew older, and watched each new Star Wars film with such excitement and anticipation. Especially of the first set of three films, when Princess Leia became more and more of a heroine of mine.  More recently, in 2015 film ‘The Force Awakens’ she returned to our screens as a General, and has already recorded her part for the next, as yet unreleased eighth film in the enduring Star Wars saga.

 As I moved away from childhood admiration and became an adult, I learned that Carrie Fisher the woman, away from her infamous Star Wars character, was as much of a badass as Leia.  She was warm, witty, scathingly honest, beautiful but not vain, and extremely smart. 

She was borne of Hollywood royalty being the daughter of screen legend Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher.   Aside from her most famous role Carrie went on to become an accomplished actress appearing in Hollywood blockbusters such as ‘When Harry Met Sally’ and ‘The Blues Brothers’. 

She also went on to write a number of books offering wry commentary on the absurdities of the film industry, as well as her lifetime struggle with her own mental health issues, removing the stigma surrounding the condition by courageously tackling it head on.  She channelled her personal struggles with both depression and substance abuse into fiercely humorous works, including the semi-autobiographical novel ‘Postcards From the Edge’ and the one-woman show ‘Wishful Drinking’, which became her memoir.

In a virtual parallel of the Star Wars story,  having seen both the light and dark sides of life, Carrie refused to take it and its trials too seriously.  Her excessive drug use through the decades affected her private life and relationships with Dan Ackroyd and Paul Simon, the latter with whom she had a brief marriage. 

Carrie Fisher adapted her semi-autobiographical novel ‘Postcards From The Edge’ as an award-winning film.

Her pithy wit and unashamed honesty made her an entertaining chat show guest, and her most recent TV appearance on ‘The Graham Norton Show’ was such a case in point where she referred to a passage in her book, ‘The Princess Diarist’ and admitted that she and Harrison Ford (aka Star Wars hero Han Solo) had a secret affair during the early film-making years. 

Carrie sadly died on Tuesday 27 December and is survived by her mother, daughter, brother and half-siblings. She was just 60 years old.  A world weeps for the loss of Leia and the charismatic Carrie. She will never be forgotten. 

© Ange Chan 2016

Ange Chan is a poet and novelist. Her fourth poetry collection, ‘FAME; What’s Your Name?’ was published in paperback and on Kindle earlier this year, and her second novel, ‘Baby Can You Hear Me?’ was published this August in paperback and on Kindle. 

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