Wednesday, December 28, 2016

RIP Carrie Fisher: The woman away from Leia

Carrie Frances Fisher
October 21 1956- December 27 2016

That was painful to write.

2016 has been a tough year for celebrity death. We've lost the likes of Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Prince, Patty Duke, Anton Yelchin, Muhammad Ali, Gene Wilder, George Michael and a number of others. Now also Carrie Fisher.

Fisher's death has hit me the hardest. Yes I live in a household that is Star Wars obsessed, but I loved her more for who she was off-screen than on. Don't get me wrong, Princess Leia is one of my favourite female film characters of all time because of her tremendous inner strength and spirit, but Carrie Fisher the woman was far more than Darth Vader's daughter who often wore her hair in twin buns and was enslaved in a gold bikini.

I never knew Fisher personally, but it was such a joy to have her in the world. Despite her tiny height of 5'1", she was a tower of strength with a larger than life personality. She refused to make herself a victim of mental health and threw herself into inspiring others who were like herself. She made light of her less than ordinary life and upbringing as the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher with her extraordinary sense of humour that paved the way for her to become a best selling author and playwright.

One of the things I really loved about Fisher was that she was never afraid to speak her mind in any situation and would often be the one to say what everyone else was thinking. I have seen countless memes today with inspiring and witty quotes she had said over the years. People related to her greatly because she had the courage to approach hard subjects and speak about the publicly so that those who were going through similar issues would not feel alone.

However, it wasn't just the difficult issues she spoke of that made people love her. On a much lighter note, I know I cannot be the only one who loved how natural and candid she was during interviews and public appearances. In later years, Fisher was always accompanied by her beloved dog, Gary in interviews, which is uncanny when you think about interview protocol, but completely endearing from a viewer's perspective. When The Force Awakens was close to release, of course I was excited for the film itself, but I loved the fact that it meant Carrie was once again on the publicity trail.

When I watch interviews on television with celebrities, I often wonder how much self control it takes the interviewee not to react when they are asked a dumb question or a question that is the same as the one just asked, but worded differently. Carrie Fisher didn't have that self control, and it was brilliant. She never held back from saying "You already asked me that..." and "I already told you...". I can only imagine how many other people in the spotlight envied her honesty in these situations, because there isn't many other people besides Carrie Fisher who could get away with something like that.

I witnessed this first hand now over three years ago. My husband and I attended Supanova Pop Culture Expo in Sydney in July 2013 when Fisher was a special guest. Her panel was the perfect example of being asked the same questions over and over. This was the time when there was just speculation as to whether she would be in the new Disney Star Wars films and she dodged every question about whether she was going to be in them (and there was a few) with "I hadn't heard there was going to be a new Star Wars film. Are they remaking Star Wars?"

Many of the audience looked at each other with confusion, but I was sure she had already signed on and couldn't say anything....she obviously did know as she was part of The Force Awakens in 2015!

The highlight for me personally was when members of the audience kept asking her 'What was your favourite scene in Star Wars?" and "What was your favourite part about filming Star Wars?" She kept answering with "When I killed the giant slug"

After about four times, Fisher (in exactly the same way you can hear her saying it in your head) said "I don't know what is wrong with all of you! You don't seem to believe me when I say that killing the giant slug was my favourite part!"

At exactly the right moment, my son who wasn't much older than one year old at the time, let out one loud random cry and Fisher said "See! You are all even making babies cry!"

I don't think my husband could have been more proud of his son getting her attention at that point in time.

I will always be grateful that I was able to see Carrie Fisher in person and I will always have a story to tell my now Star Wars crazy son as he gets older that he had an interaction with Princess Leia/ General Organa. Unlike many of the other celebrity deaths this year, I and so many others around the world will feel the absence of Carrie Fisher. From what I understand, she was in the middle of a great creative period of her life and it is a terrible shame that we will no longer see any more of her work. She not only entertained, but she inspired and was truly an amazing woman. She will be greatly missed.


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