Although Carrie Fisher is best remembered for her portrayal of Princess Leia in Star Wars, her real-life resilience only enhanced her iconic reputation. A born writer, Fisher never shied away from speaking her truth and telling her story. Not only did she brave mental illness and addiction, but her tragic love stories reveal her devastating vulnerabilities.
Born October 21, 1956, Carrie Fisher joined a family of Hollywood royalty. Her parents were none other than Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, and as a result of their fame and notoriety, young Carrie found herself thrust into the public eye. But this wasn’t the childhood she wished for. More than anything, Carrie wanted a semblance of normalcy.
Carrie hated sharing her mother with the rest of the world and always vied for her attention. Wishing to be like everybody else, she dove into the world of literature, burying herself in stories which earned her the nickname “the bookworm.” She was a writer at heart, but it wasn’t long before her mother’s influence led her straight to center stage.
Carrie Fisher was only 16 when she starred alongside her mother in the Broadway show Irene. But this was as far away from normal as she could get, and soon, the demands of the stage conflicted with her schooling and she dropped out. Only a year later, she filmed her first film, Shampoo. Slowly but surely, her educational pursuits fell by the wayside. There was no turning back now.
It’s impossible to think of Carrie Fisher without remembering her most iconic role—Princess Leia in Star Wars. At 19 years old, she could never have predicted the success of the space opera. Princess Leia, with her fiery retorts and undeniable bravery, was nothing short of iconic. But behind the glamor of her newfound success, Fisher hid a terrible secret—one she kept for most of her life.
In 2016, Fisher dropped a scandalous mother lode with her tell-all memoir, The Princess Diarist, which drew on the diary she had kept while filming Star Wars. In these pages, she confirmed what some people only suspected—that her on-screen chemistry with Harrison Ford had deeper roots in reality. Behind the scenes, Fisher and Ford were conducting an illicit affair. And when I say illicit, I mean it.
If you’re thinking that Carrie Fisher and Harrison’s affair rivalled the romance of Princess Leia and Han Solo, think again. In truth, their romance was far darker, shedding a rather unfavorable light on Ford. According to Fisher, their tryst began at George Lucas’s birthday party where she was the only girl in a roomful of lusty men...It was a recipe for disaster.
At the party, the crew plied Fisher with drinks. Despite hating the effects of alcohol, her youth and insecurity drove her to fit in, and soon, she was completely under the influence. That’s when the party took a scary turn. The crew started taking advantage of her and some even tried to drag her away from the party. When Harrison Ford witnessed these injustices, he took action.
In a seemingly heroic gesture, Harrison Ford intervened, saying “Pardon me, but the lady doesn’t seem to be very aware of what she wants.” After this, quarrels arose and under the cover of commotion, Ford whisked Fisher away from the event himself, leading her to the private confines of a car. Now that he had her alone, his hidden desire spoke for itself.
In the car, Ford took the drunken Fisher in his arms and kissed her deeply. This marked the beginning of their three-month affair. But just like the uncomfortable backstory of their first make-out session, their romance was far from a fairy tale. After all, Ford was 14 years older than her and already had his own wife. They followed a trajectory destined for heartbreak.
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In her book, Carrie Fisher does not paint Harrison Ford as the most attentive lover. In fact, her descriptions of him betray her own desperation for his affection. Beyond sleeping with her, Ford rarely bestowed her any warmth or even talked to her. He was a married man with two children, and there was just no way he’d ever be serious about her. Fisher, on the other hand, had tunnel vision: she only wanted him.
Fisher’s retelling of her teenage angst and obsession with Harrison Ford is extremely vulnerable, and mostly sad. She confesses that she often fantasized about him leaving his wife, and wondered what more she could do to make him care for her. And while she tried to maintain her sense of humor through it all, it becomes clear that their dalliance was mostly one-sided: “I loved him and he allowed it.”
Despite the pain of her unreciprocated feelings, Fisher could never deny that their on-screen characters benefitted from their off-screen chemistry. It made their romantic scenes more comfortable and she often used comedy to coax laughter out of him. But looking back on these bittersweet moments, Fisher often wondered if she had picked the wrong leading man.
It wasn’t just Harrison Ford who shared a spark of attraction with the leading lady, but also Mark Hamill, who played the role of Luke Skywalker. Later on, he fully admitted that he and Fisher had something special between them but that his professionalism held him back from pursuing it any further. They did, however, share quite the intimate moment…
While discussing kissing techniques, both Hamill and Fisher took it one step further. Hamill remembers the moment quite vividly, “I said: ‘Well, I think I’m a fairly good kisser. I like to let the women come to me rather than be aggressive.’ And she said: ‘What do you mean?’ Well, next thing you know we’re making out like teenagers!”
Although this incredibly cute exchange ended in awkward laughter, it left an indelible impression on Fisher. When she wrote about her affair with Ford, she also noted the missed opportunity with her other costar. Her sentiments read like a knife to the heart: “I’m sorry it’s not Mark. It could’ve been. It should’ve been. It might’ve meant something...Maybe not much, but certainly more.”
Hamill, on the other hand, had a different way of dealing with those lingering “what ifs”.
Fisher and Ford’s scandalous affair shocked Hamill. He admitted that if he had known back then, his jealousy would have gotten the better of him. But not all was lost. Going forward, their time together on Star Wars fostered a lifelong friendship. For Hamill, a relationship with Fisher just wasn’t in the cards: she would always be a little too much for him. “She was too creative, she was too smart. She was just the best.”
When George Lucas approached Fisher with the outfit she’d be wearing for the opening scenes of Return of the Jedi, she thought he was joking. This was the “Slave Leia” outfit—a metal bikini that left very little to the imagination. After the film’s release, it effectively transformed Fisher into an icon. Everyone adored this sensual look except, maybe, Fisher herself.
The idea of wearing this revealing bikini set Fisher on edge. She wanted to look her best, and throughout filming she had to sit as straight as possible to prevent any lines or creases from showing. By being held to such a high standard of perfection, this image greatly affected her self-esteem in the years to come. However, she did find one consolation.
Carrie Fisher absolutely relished the scene where she got to end Jabba The Hutt’s life, “I couldn’t wait to kill him.” In the film, he’s the reason she has to wear the dreaded bikini in the first place. His brutal end felt like the perfect redemption for both Fisher and her character, Leia. But the golden bikini wasn’t the only Star Wars look she took issue with.
Turns out, Carrie Fisher also hated Princess Leia’s signature double-bun look. It took about two hours to perfect, so she’d have to show up to set earlier than everybody else. To top it off, she thought it was completely unflattering, making her face look wide and unattractive. She felt enormous pressure to look the part of a princess. In fact, during casting, she almost missed out on the role entirely.
In 1976, George Lucas was on the hunt for a “beautiful girl” to play Princess Leia. When presented with the idea of Carrie Fisher, he almost passed her up. The girl he truly had in mind was Jodie Foster, but due to scheduling conflicts she turned down the role. Today, it’s difficult to imagine that anybody else could have done the stubborn princess as much justice as Fisher.
During the very same year she embarked on her brief fling with Ford, Fisher met another man. His name was Paul Simon. She didn’t know it at the time, but this famous musician was about to shake up her love life...for the next 12 years. The following year, Fisher performed on Saturday Night Live, and she crossed paths with Simon once again. After that, they couldn’t get enough of one another.
It wasn’t long before Fisher shacked up with Simon in an apartment on New York’s Central Park West. Carrie Fisher’s “wild energy” invigorated her new beau, but it wasn’t always easy. Unfortunately, Fisher grappled with other demons—her mental illness and frequent drug use. Soon enough, her erratic behavior infiltrated the bliss of her burgeoning romance.
Because Simon faced an onslaught of Fisher’s intense mood swings, the two of them were constantly on and off. During one of their first breaks, Carrie Fisher forged a special bond with her Blues Brother co-star, Dan Aykroyd. Aykroyd, worried about Fisher’s declining weight, frequently tried to get her to eat more food. Only, during one shared meal, everything went wrong…
While chewing on a brussel sprout, Carrie Fisher started choking. At first, Aykroyd thought she was laughing, but then, to his horror, he realized her distress. Coming to her rescue, he performed the Heimlich maneuver and saved her life. 10 minutes later, both of them still in shock, Aykroyd turned to Fisher and asked her a startling question.
Dan Aykroyd, having seen Fisher through a near-death experience, proposed to her on the spot. Truly taken by his act of heroism, Fisher agreed. To be honest, they almost made it down the aisle. They purchased the rings and got their blood tests, but in the end, Fisher couldn’t go through with it. Her love for Paul Simon still remained, and she ended up running back to him.
Even though Fisher and Simon reunited and tried to make things work, their relationship was still turbulent. Through the 1980s, the couple dated, but soon found themselves on the brink of breaking up once again. The prospect of saying goodbye was too heart-wrenching for both parties, so instead, they decided to do the complete opposite—they got engaged.
The wedding ceremony took place at Simon’s NYC apartment and the guest list boasted such famous names as Kevin Kline and Billy Joel. However, it wasn't long before the fighting commenced. Even on their honeymoon, Fisher remembered exchanging harsh words with her new husband, saying, “Not only do I not like you, I don’t like you personally!” But this was only the beginning.
Carrie Fisher could make Paul Simon laugh, no problem. And it was her sense of humor—her light—that had them reconciling time and time again. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to maintain their marriage, and after only 11 months, they called it quits. But of course, this wasn’t truly the end. Like two fickle magnets, these lovers kept coming back to one another.
Even post-divorce, Fisher and Simon kept their flame alive. She even helped raise Simon’s son from another marriage, Harper. When they did fight, she tried to recognize the hilarity of it all and reminded herself how good they were together. Still, this wasn’t enough. During a trip to Brazil, Fisher visited a spiritual healer. This encounter changed everything.
While Paul Simon wrote music in Brazil, Fisher’s interests lay elsewhere. She visited a healer and participated in a spiritual cleansing ceremony where she drank hallucinogenic tea. The visions she experienced were revelatory, and ultimately drove her to end her relationship with Simon for good. She described feeling “pinned beneath Paul’s ever-spinning, ever-controlling brain.”
Although Paul Simon used his romance with Fisher for songwriting inspiration, he didn’t share Fisher’s tell-all approach when it came to their relationship. Though opting for privacy, he acknowledged her freedom to write whatever she wanted. In his famous song “Graceland,” Simon refers to Fisher in the lyrics: "She’s come back to tell me she’s gone / As if I didn't know that, as if I didn't know my own bed / As if I'd never noticed the way she brushed her hair from her forehead."
Carrie Fisher’s drug use began during the filming of The Empire Strikes Back, and it only got worse from there. At this time, Fisher had not yet been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and in an attempt to self-medicate, she turned to the opioid Percodan to regulate her moods. That’s when everything started to spiral out of control.
Soon Fisher’s addiction drove her to upsetting extremes. At one point, she took 30 pills of Percodan a day. She remembers being so desperate that she’d scour the drawers of friends and family, searching for drugs. When she was only 28, Fisher reached an all-time low and ended up in the hospital; she had overdosed on sleeping pills and prescription medicine and needed her stomach pumped.
After her terrifying overdose, Fisher sought treatment for her bipolar diagnosis. She managed to find a silver lining in the depths of her struggle, and used her road to rehabilitation as inspiration for her novel, Postcards From The Edge. She opened up a dialogue about mental illness and addiction, her positive message giving hope to others grappling with similar trials.
In spite of her personal struggles, Fisher still managed to navigate a successful career, especially when it came to writing. On top of acting and her own creative pursuits, Fisher became a prolific script doctor in Hollywood, polishing up other writers’ screenplays. George Lucas even hired her to look over the dialogue in his Star Wars prequel screenplays.
Little did she know, her time working on Star Wars was far from over.
After her drawn-out relationship with Paul Simon came to a close, Fisher began dating the well-known talent agent Bryan Lourd in the early 90s. Although she often referred to him as her second husband, the couple never married. They did, however, welcome a baby girl named Billie. Everything seemed to be going well, that is, until Lourd revealed a shocking secret.
In a move that devastated Fisher, Lourd left her for another man. The whole situation made her feel “humiliated and betrayed.” She hadn’t been able to make it work and saw herself reflected in her own parents’ messy breakup. Her father, Eddie Fisher had left her mother, Debbie Reynolds, for Elizabeth Taylor. All of a sudden she stood in her mother’s shoes—left alone with a baby girl to raise.
In 2003, Carrie Fisher met a young ex-soldier named James Blunt. Brought together by mutual friends, this unlikely pair met at a restaurant and became fast friends. When he told her that he had recently landed a record deal and was on his way to LA, she asked him where he was staying. After Blunt acknowledged that he hadn’t quite found a place yet, she made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Carrie Fisher invited James Blunt to live with her while he recorded his debut album. He fondly remembers recording his hit “Goodbye My Lover” in her bathroom, as well as his interludes with Debbie Reynolds, who refused to see him unless she was fully made up. But despite these joyous moments, there’s one haunting memory he can’t seem to forget…
A joker as always, Fisher took a cardboard cutout of Princess Leia and positioned it outside James Blunt’s bedroom. In retrospect, Blunt recalls an unsettling detail. On the cutout’s forehead she had scrawled the date of her birth, and most importantly, the date of her passing. Although he can’t remember the exact date, he confesses that it was eerily close to the date of her actual death.
James Blunt only has glowing things to say about his roommate Carrie Fisher, and even named his debut album after the enjoyable madness of living with her—Back to Bedlam. He even goes so far as to call her his “American mother” and actually made her the godmother of his own son. Even after he moved out and forged his own way, the two of them remained the closest of friends.
With the announcement of a new Star Wars trilogy in 2014, fans could hardly contain their excitement. The most delightful part? The inclusion of the original cast. Carrie Fisher would reprise her role as Princess Leia. But while Fisher was happy to return to the Star Wars universe, there was one stipulation that did not enthuse her.
Carrie Fisher felt unbelievably pressured to lose weight before filming The Force Awakens. This was not unlike her first experience with Star Wars where at 19 years old, she was told to slim down. Now, with the wisdom of her years, Fisher called it how she saw it. “I’m in a business where the only thing that matters is weight and appearance. That is so messed up. They might as well say get younger, because that’s how easy it is.”
Since her affair with Harrison Ford in 1977, one might think that Fisher had ample time to fully move on. But her tone in her last memoir, The Princess Diarist, suggests otherwise. Carrie Fisher still harbored insecurities over her awkwardness around Harrison Ford, and in spite of it all, continued to nurse a flame on his behalf.
In her book, she writes: “While there’s still time for Carrison to grow old together, that gateway is steadily closing. If we’re going to get back together we’re going to have to do it soon.”
On December 3, 2016, Carrie Fisher was on her way back to LA when she experienced a medical emergency on board her commercial flight. Only minutes away from landing, a nearby passenger noticed that Fisher wasn’t breathing. While waiting for paramedics to arrive, a knowledgeable passenger took the reins and performed CPR for as long as possible. Even as medics whisked her off to the hospital, things weren’t looking good.
Placed on a ventilator, Fisher lay in the ICU fighting for her life. Sadly, four days later, Fisher passed at the age of 60. The initial report claimed she passed from cardiac arrest, but upon further investigation the real reason couldn’t be confirmed. Sleep apnea and blocked arteries could have been contributing factors, but they also found traces of drugs in her system.
In the face of the unknown, Fisher’s daughter Billie made a statement.
In response to her mother’s autopsy, Billie Lourd emotionally explained how Fisher “...battled drug addiction and mental illness her entire life. She ultimately died of it. She was purposefully open in all of her work about the social stigmas surrounding these diseases...I know my Mom, she'd want her death to encourage people to be open about their struggles.”
Sadly, this wasn’t the only loss Lourd had to shoulder.
Only a day after Fisher’s passing, Debbie Reynolds suffered a fatal stroke. The saddest part was that just before the stroke, she voiced a disheartening desire, “I want to be with Carrie.” These two massive stars were celebrated in a joint memorial service. Some of Fisher’s ashes were laid to rest with her mother, while the rest of her ashes are fittingly kept in a large Prozac Pill.
Todd Fisher, Carrie Fisher’s brother, took the back-to-back loss of his sister and mother especially hard. And then, one day, while looking through his mother’s desk drawers, he made a shocking discovery. He found a ripped page with his sister’s unmistakable handwriting all over it. When he read what she’d written, he couldn’t believe his eyes.
The piece of paper read as follows: “I am dead. How are you? I’ll see you soon…I would call and tell you what this is like, but there is no reception up here." Then it says, "Cut. New scene, new setup, new heavenly location. I have finally got the part that I have been rehearsing for all my life. God gave me the part. This is the end of the road I have been touring on all my life.”
For Todd Fisher, this was an unprecedented coincidence. He couldn’t help but feel there was a reason for him finding this note at just the right time: it felt like she had reached out to him from the beyond.
My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.
Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.
Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.
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