From Debbie Reynolds' daughter to space princess to pill-popper to bipolar poster girl, Carrie Fisher mixes a cocktail of scandal-turned-comedy in "Wishful Drinking."
Princess Leia is letting her braids down.
Carrie Fisher’s riotous one-woman live stage show “Wishful Drinking” makes its TV debut on HBO Dec. 12, where the actress best known for her role in the “Star Wars” trilogy (but let’s not forget she was also in “Shampoo,” “The Blues Brothers” and “When Harry Met Sally”) amusingly lets loose on a variety of topics most celebrities wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot lightsaber: her battles with mental illness, marriages to Paul Simon and (eventually) gay agent Bryan Lourd, life as a merchandized icon, her extended famous family as example of “Hollywood Inbreeding” and the time her closest friend died while they were sleeping in her bed.
Sound hilarious yet? It is.
The quick-witted Fisher – who’s enjoyed a second act as an accomplished novelist and screenwriter – tells PopcornBiz how liberating it is for a celebrity tabloid staple to turn their own rollercoaster ride through fame and scandal. “The stuff was already out there,” she says. “Literally there was an article that said 'Carrie Fisher's Tragic Life' or some sh-- like that, and I thought 'Okay, well, that's their view. If it's going to be out there like that, then I'm going to have my version.'”
She gets a lot of mileage out of tweaking her “Star Wars” experience on stage, and is stunned at just how ubiquitous the phenomenon has been over three-plus decade. “It's more endless than I anticipated, so it's funny. It crops up in the stupidest places. Something, anything, in science reports!”
She also has to occasionally call up George Lucas to get approval to use her own image in the Danish-shaped braids or gold slave girl bikini. “He's very nice about it – and he also knows that at any point I could be called upon to give him an award or something and he has to be nice to me or I'll make fun of him again in the next row.”
The second generation star – born to film star Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher not long before Fisher’s affair with Elizabeth Taylor became the love triangle proto-scandal of its day – also has no pretentions about taking her stint as an actress seriously. “I was not an actor. I just wanted to be in 'Star Wars' because it was a genius script – and I would've rather played Han Solo because that was a better part! But I wasn't an actor ever, like 'Oh, have you seen my Ophelia?' I didn't go into show business. The bigger trick would’ve been to stay out. So I didn't stay out.”
Talking through her colorful past and poking fun at her famously flawed family on stage was not an act of rebellion, she explains. “The opposite – The act of rebellion in my family is not doing a nightclub act. My mother didn't like me doing drugs, but it was much worse that I didn't do a nightclub act. So now I've finally become my mother.”
“I’m very excited for Carrie,” agrees her mother Debbie Reynolds, still a glamorous vision – with a still sassy tongue – at age 78. “It is funny. It is very intellectual and very hip. So the younger people really like it. It's not my kind of entertaining because she talks about drug use and a lot of things that I wouldn't talk about on stage myself, but I'm another generation – and she's hysterical.”
However, the showbiz generation gap occasionally shows. “One joke which I never understood is where says that I'm ‘a gay diva,’” says Reynolds. “I had to ask her what that meant. She said, 'Mother, it means all the gays love you.' I said, 'Oh, I thought that meant I was gay.' She said, 'No, it doesn't mean that, Mother! Grow up!’”
“She's lucky that I'm not doing a play,” says Reynolds. “’Mother Talks Back.’”