Carrie Fisher, umm,…I mean Princess Leia was my first crush. I saw Star Wars in 1978 when it had come back to play in theaters after a monster run the year before. I was 4 years old and the movie made an indelible mark on my psyche. At that young of age I felt the gamut of emotions one doesn’t usually come to understand until much later in life. The whole idea of the “damsel in distress” thing hadn’t completely sunk in to me prior to this point, but after seeing Luke, Han, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan, C3P0, and R2D2’s gallant rescue of the Princess from Alderaan I felt my head open up to a whole other world. But Princess Leia wasn’t some wallflower waiting for some space stud to sweep her off her feet. She was a beautiful and tough-as-nails gal that was in the thick of a fight that may very well kill her, but she didn’t care.
Carrie Fisher played Princess Leia with both a sly wit and an open heartedness. She came across both as this unattainable beauty and as the girl next door that would come over to babysit you when your parents went out for drinks on Friday night. Star Wars was an obsession of mine(I know join the club, right?) from that first viewing of Star Wars in the summer of 1978 till 1984 when GI Joe and Transformers took more precedent and real estate in my closet and brain. While the swashbuckling adventures, the spaceships, laser guns, lightsabers, Jedi mind tricks, and sensory overload battle scenes were enough to stick around for, it was the characters that kept me wanting. They kept me emotionally invested in the story. Carrie Fisher was a big part of that for me. I wouldn’t say I obsessed over her, but yeah, I obsessed over her. I was part of the Star Wars Fan Club. I remember getting patches, the famed ‘Revenge of the Jedi’ movie poster, and my most prized possession, an autographed 5×7 photo of Carrie Fisher in Hoth attire. It was signed “Galactically Yours, Carrie Fisher”. My mom gave me a little gold frame to put it in and it sat on my desk for years. Of course, it wasn’t really signed personally by her, but it was the thought that counted. I also remember being quite jealous of Paul Simon for marrying her.
I tried to watch everything Carrie Fisher was in after Star Wars. I watched The Blues Brothers on TV and when she appeared as Belushi’s ex trying to kill him all I wanted to see was her. Then at the end when he leaves her behind all I could think was “You fool!!” She was also in Under The Rainbow with Chevy Chase. I sat through that at 8 years old because of her. The Man With One Red Shoe, Hannah and her Sisters, The ‘Burbs, and Drop Dead Fred were all movies I was excited to see Carrie Fisher in. Hell, even as an adult I was thrilled to see her in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.
Of course, Fisher was far more than just a Princess in a galaxy far, far, away. She was human with human problems. Addiction, mental health issues, and growing up with famous parents can’t be all that easy. But she also possessed this amazing mind and ability to write beautifully. She was very candid about her life and wrote about it freely. Her wit and smarts shined through in her books and in her appearances in 30 Rock, Weeds, Robot Chicken, and The Big Bang Theory. She was a person not to be trifled with, possessing a Dorothy Parker-like razor wit and though she did suffer from typecasting from Star Wars, she never let it control her and stop her from doing what she wanted.
I may not be that little kid with butterflies in his stomach every time Carrie Fisher, umm….I mean Princess Leia appears on the screen, but I’m still pretty devastated at the thought that she’s gone. We’re lacking in sly wit and open heartedness as of late. I hope wherever the Princess is, she’s found some peace.