Carrie Fisher died on December 27. She was best known for playing Princess Leia in George Lucas’s original Star Wars trilogy. It was a role she latterly reprised in last year’s Disney sequel The Force Awakens, and a role we’ll see her return in once more at the end of 2017 when Episode VIII is released in cinemas. It’s been widely reported that she had finished shooting all her scenes for the as-yet-untitled latest addition to the franchise.
Carrie Fisher was also known for being outspoken, and for taking Hollywood and all it stands for less than seriously. Daughter of hot Hollywood properties Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, and supremely sharp, Carrie Fisher had seen behind the glitzy façade first-hand growing up. Notably, when her father left her mother for movie star Elizabeth Taylor. She wasn’t falling for its seductive allure herself, though, and she consequently instated a policy of candidness and openness, laying herself bare in interviews and memoirs.
Throughout her career, Fisher had a number of roles that showcased her talents beyond the Alderaanian diplomat and Rebel Alliance operative that helped to define her as the outlier and refreshingly independent voice she became known as. Fandom takes a look at five Carrie Fisher performances that you really need to see.
In her first movie role out of drama school (in fact, she was still enrolled in drama school – London’s Central School of Speech and Drama to be precise), Carrie Fisher displayed the sass and precociousness that would soon land her the role of Leia Organa in Star Wars at the age of 19.
Self-assured, comfortable in her own skin and provocative, her character Lorna, fresh from practicing on the tennis court, brazenly questions lothario hairdresser George (played by Warren Beatty) about his sex life. She fires an onslaught of verbal volleys at him – questions revolving around his sexuality and whether he’s “making it” with her mother. He bats back once or twice but he’s beaten every time.
Lorna’s stuttering and squirming opponent is slammed into submission by the relentless and discombobulating line of questioning. Then, she blatantly propositions him. Cut to her mother (Lee Grant) coming home – she walks into Lorna’s room to see her sitting on the bed in her tennis kit adjusting her headscarf.
“Have you seen George by any chance? He’s my hairdresser,” says her mother.
“He’s in the bathroom,” Lorna replies.
“He’s in your bathroom?” her mother asks – just before George emerges, doing up his fly.
When Harry Met Sally
Rob Reiner’s 1989 hit When Harry Met Sally focuses on the ‘Will they, won’t they?’ relationship of the titular characters of Harry and Sally, played by Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan at the height of their careers. But it’s the character of Sally’s friend Marie, played by Carrie Fisher, that gives the film depth and that arguably best speaks to audiences – particularly women.
Marie is realistic, independent and strong, and keeps the equivalent of a little black book of single men. She memorably chooses a potential partner for her friend based on the fact that Sally doesn’t have a problem with chins.
When she’s taken on a double date by Sally as a potential partner for Harry, she struggles to click with him and instead falls for Sally’s ‘date’, Harry’s friend Jess. On the date, she unwittingly quotes Jess, who is a writer, back to him. Then, during an engineered chat with Sally on the sidewalk after dinner, she questions Sally about her feelings for Jess with all the subtlety of a heavily modified blaster pistol. She’s trying to assess whether she’d be okay to make a move herself, while Jess is having the same conversation with Harry. At this point, the two hilariously dart into a cab together.
There’s also the memorable wagon-wheel coffee table fight, of course. As Jess insists he has good taste, Marie issues a classically barbed comment all wrapped up in a mollifying tone: “Everybody thinks they have good taste and a sense of humour – but they couldn’t all have good taste.”
Then, as Harry erupts with a self-pitying monologue about divorce and how some day, Marie and Jess will go “fifteen rounds” over who will get the “stupid, wagon-wheel, Roy Rogers, garage-sale coffee table”, she delivers this killer line: “I want you to know that I will never want that wagon-wheel coffee table.”
Carrie Fisher had been off the radar for a while, popping up in small roles here and there on television and in film. Then, along came a post-Scream, tongue-in-cheek horror movie called Sorority Row. In it, she played – in her own words – a “wry, exhausted, middle-aged housemother”, heading up a sorority house in which a prank goes wrong, and the girls end up paying for it as a murderer terrorises them.
Fisher plays the role with a hefty dose of dramatic irony and she relishes uttering lines like “Please don’t think I’m afraid of you, I run a house with fifty crazy bitches” to the killer she’s stalking, gun in hand. As her character is impaled on a spike, who else but Carrie Fisher could convincingly spit the words: “You stay the fuck away from my girls!”
Carrie Fisher is the best thing about Sorority Row by a country mile. Plus, she wields a shotgun like a boss.
Perhaps you’d forgotten that Carrie Fisher appeared in The ‘Burbs, a peculiar 1980s comedy-thriller starring Tom Hanks.
As Carol Peterson, long-suffering wife of Hanks’s suburban dad Ray Peterson, she delivered dialogue in her characteristically sardonic way. Responding to Hanks’s line referencing their mysterious new neighbours – “He says he thinks the Klopeks are evil incarnate.” – Fisher says, ““Well, you’re much too smart to fall for that, aren’t you honey?”. Her delivery is downplayed and deadpan – and is accompanied with a knowing wink.
She’s equally subtly acerbic, and again aligns herself quietly with the audience, when her screen husband complains that he can’t go anywhere without her asking where he’s going. He says, annoyed, “I’m going to Paris, France. I’m going to Banff, Canada, all right? That’s where I’m going”.
Entirely unruffled, she simply says, “Are you taking the dog?” Underrated comedy genius.
The film’s director, Gremlins helmer Joe Dante, recently tweeted in tribute that Carrie Fisher was “one of the brightest minds” he ever knew.
My heart goes out to the family and friends of Carrie Fisher, one of the brightest minds I ever knew, who has passed away at 60. pic.twitter.com/coRF3LSGdG
— Joe Dante (@joe_dante) December 28, 2016
The Blues Brothers
Or, when underrated comedy genius meets a celebrated comedy legend. Rewind from 2009 and Sorority Row, and fast forward from 1977 and Star Wars Episode IV and we see Carrie Fisher once again gun in hand. Only this time, it’s not a blaster, or a shotgun, it’s an automatic weapon.
In a standout scene from 1980 John Landis comedy The Blues Brothers, Dan Aykroyd’s Elwood and John Belushi’s Jake meet Fisher, Jake’s ex-girlfriend, in an underground tunnel, where she greets them by opening fire. She levels accusations at Jake and he defends himself. She calls him a contemptible pig, and says, “I remained celibate for you. I stood at the back of a cathedral waiting in celibacy for you.”
Channeling Leia-on-Endor hair and glossy princess lips, she continues with another priceless insult: “You miserable slug. You think you can talk your way out of this? You betrayed me!”
As he issues his sniveling excuses, she looks into his eyes and falls for him all over again as real-life boyfriend Aykroyd looks on. They kiss, and he drops her to the ground where she’s left squirming in the mud and grime.
A unique talent, and one that was not cherished nearly enough when she was alive, Carrie Fisher will be sorely missed.