Unlike her uptight Princess Leia character from the original Star Wars trilogy, Carrie Fisher has been an open book. In her 2008 memoir Wishful Drinking, she was frank about her unhappy childhood and substance abuse. But as it turns out, Fisher was holding a few fascinating chapters of her life close to her chest.
In The Princess Diarist, a new collection of her journal entries from the time she first began shooting the franchise, Fisher drops both interesting trivia and a major revelation – that she had an affair with co-star Harrison Ford.
Sandwiched between her moonstruck scribblings about Ford are reflections on all things Star Wars – the 1976 shoot, her awkward audition, the fashion, the fanatical followers and the Force.
Fisher reprised her role as Leia in last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Some fans have surmised that she might make a cameo in Rogue One, the spin-off that is out this month. If she is, Fisher is silent about it. As we learn from The Princess Diarist, she is not as bad at keeping secrets as she claims to be.
Until Rogue One’s release, here are some highlights from the actress’s book to keep the Star Wars conversation going.
The scene Fisher first read in the script was different in the movie
In the book, Fisher discusses her audition with George Lucas, who met her with director Brian De Palma. He was also talent scouting for his new project Carrie. Fisher read for both parts and later, describes going over a Star Wars scene with actor Miguel Ferrer (as Han Solo), before a final reading.
In the scene, Leia had been kidnapped and tortured in a cavern by Darth Vader. She was rescued by Solo and his “giant monkey-creature co-pilot Chewbacca”, who slung her over his shoulders and carried her.
But, Fisher says, the scene was altered when actor Peter Mayhew, who was over 7 feet tall, was cast in it. “He had a condition that left him unable to stand up quickly and remain stable; it was impossible for him to lift up weight of any kind. And my weight, as everyone at Lucasland can recall, was, and remains, of the any kind variety,” she writes.
She calls Leia’s hair buns “god-awfully laughable”
Princess Leia had an instantly recognisable hairstyle, which Fisher calls the Buns of Navarone. She and hairstylist Pat McDermott pored over many inspirations to arrive on it. “Pat showed me a variety of exotic looks from Russian princesses to Swedish maids. I looked at the images, slightly alarmed. There was no Lady Gaga to guide me,” she reveals. Eventually, they zeroed in on the “hairy earphone configuration”.
She offers a reason she is writing about the Ford affair now
By any measure, that Princess Leia and Han Solo were intimate in real life is a big story. So why invite the scrutiny now when she has stayed quiet for so long? Fisher believes that if she doesn’t say anything, perhaps, someone else would. “Harrison’s been very good about not talking about his half of the story. But just because he’s been good doesn’t mean, I have to continue to be,” she says.
Her feelings for Ford were complicated
The Princess Diarist could well have been titled ‘That Time I Fell For Harrison Ford’ because Fisher devotes a significant portion of her book to the relationship (she calls it ‘Carrison’) and its confusing hold on her. At one point, she wonders why she was with a married man when neither of them had any love for each other. Forty years on, her assessment was that the affair, “was one very long one-night stand.”
Star Wars fans, Carrie Fisher really does love you
Fisher is known for her caustic asides and over the years, the franchise’s fandom has been at the receiving end of many of her jokes. The way she looks at it, the act of posing for pictures and signing autographs for fans is an elaborate form of celebrity lap dance. And Fisher has been asked to dance wherever she goes. She reiterates that her humour comes from a place of love. “The Star Wars films touched them [fans] in some incredibly profound or significant way…there is something sweet and mystifying about people waiting in lines for so long.”
Fisher is a believer in the Force
The mystical Force, at the heart of every Star Wars film, seems to be almost a divine guiding principle for Fisher. She writes, “It’s like this thing my mom used to say: I salute the light of the God within you. That’s the Force for me. I salute the light of the Force within and without you. The light that shines away from the dark side…May this force be with us all.”