Shortly after the release of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Playboy reporter Robert Crane caught up with the diminutive daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher at her home in Laurel Canyon.
20 QUESTIONS: CARRIE FISHER
The feistiest woman in the universe talks about first dates, being rich . . . and why Darth Vader should be called darthy
Robert Crane caught up with the diminutive daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher at her home in Laurel Canyon. He reports, "Carrie Fisher lives in a log cabin. Really. The only tip-off to her wealth is a Mercedes 450 SL parked in the driveway. Carrie talks fast and loud and doesn't forget the audience for a moment. She takes charge, like Princess Leia, but is much more attractive in person without that costume and the doughnuts on the side of her head."
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BENNO FRIEOMAN
playboy: Are you afraid of being known for the rest of your life as Princess Leia and not as Carrie Fisher?
fisher: I’m resigned to the fact that I will be, in a very pleasant way. I thought I was going to end up as Tammy. So you can imagine it’s some kind of relief. It’s OK that I’m this gun-toting girl in the sky. I’m not afraid of that.
playboy: What do you want Princess Leia to do that she can’t do?
fisher: A hundred things. I asked George Lucas nicely if she could have a drinking problem or take soma or anything, because she’s had a rough couple of films: She’s been tortured by Darth Vader; she had a space boyfriend and he was frozen; she’s been wounded; a planet was blown up with her parents on it—the whole shot. I thought she would have some kind of problem after that. I wanted another girl up in space with me, shopping, talking about guys—“The space suit really doesn’t do him justice; he’s really cute underneath all that plastic.” Also, I have a costume I want to use that I think even playboy would be proud of. Anyway, I don’t take drugs or drink in space. Nobody does that.
playboy: If it were up to you, what would happen to Princess Leia?
fisher: She'd get blown up. In midsentence: “And another thing; this aircraft is not-” Boom! She just gets a little testy. She’s had two films to work it out and she hasn’t done it. They blow people up well in these films.
playboy: Who is the lucky man who introduces you to full princesshood and under what circumstances?
fisher: First of all, one has to assume that Han Solo’s kiss is the first space kiss that Princess Leia has encountered. She’s just a soldier and she never goes below barracks. I thought maybe he’d be a robot. We'd cut to a fireplace and the embers would go down, and we’d cut back and I’d look exactly like Princess Di. But I guess it doesn’t happen like that in space.
playboy: Can you foresee having a relationship with Vader?
fisher: Yeah, but not of the kind that you’re suggesting. He’s not a real nice guy. Not your standard relationship. There are other styles of relationships that I don’t like to imagine. He’s just tortured me and everything. The guy’s not attractive. He has funny hair. He’s not black. He may be neuter. A lot of this is open to people’s interpretations. Maybe he’s gay. Vader is gay and he’s embarrassed about some tattoos he had put on his face. He got drunk one night. No, he has some kind of problem with facial hair. What can I tell you? You’ll find it out in the third film. You had a glimpse of him in The Empire Strikes Back. He looked like some vegetables gone bad.
playboy: We still remember your scenes from Shampoo. Princess Leia is a nun compared with that character. Which one do you have an easier time relating to?
fisher: Shampoo—because it’s a contemporary role. Princess Leia is very cartoonlike. In Shampoo, you could improvise. You can’t improvise in space. Usually, in stressful situations, one would go, "Oh, my God; oh, shit!" You can’t say. “Oh, my God!” in space. You can’t have any time references. It's more difficult to move within that dialog and have it sound natural. I’ve always found my character very stilted compared with the other ones, but it’s a fairy tale. It’s more difficult to play that, because you have to bring yourself to it. Leia has dry, almost parched humor. That stuff is difficult. I always felt as if I were a girl who was being led into this $10,000,000 boy’s toy. Shampoo was easy. It had nothing to do with my character’s promiscuity. It had to do with her reality. At the time I did Shampoo, I was a virgin. 1 knew nothing. They would kid me. Warren [Beatty], Hal (Ashby] and Robert [Towne] would all fall apart laughing, and I would, too. My line to Warren was “Want to fuck?” and I was supposed to be hostile and mean and power-crazy. I would say that line and fall apart, because Warren had told the others that 1 didn’t know what I was talking about and that was very funny to them. I knew about everything, which was probably why I didn’t want to do anything. I was the last in my class. I was 17, almost 18.
playboy: Were you grounded when your mother saw your scenes in Shampoo?
fisher: No. She helped me with my dialog and asked if I could, maybe, say screw instead of fuck. She wanted a five- as opposed to a four-letter word. I don’t think my grandparents saw it. My grandmother has a pacemaker, so they don't see that kind of film. My father was fond of it. My mother liked it. She’s not really Tammy, just as I’m not really Princess Leia. She’s a regular human being. I've actually heard her say that word.
playboy: There is a rumor that you’ve made more money from the Star Wars films than your parents made during their entire careers.
fisher: I think Andy Warhol started that rumor. People like it. It sounds good. I'd like it if I weren’t me. I could call and get an accountant and figure it out. My mother made 53 films and did night-club work. They didn’t get paid as much as we do now; but, no, it’s not true. I've been working for only eight years.
playboy: What are the net effects of being raised by show-business parents?
fisher: Look at me; I’m a wreck. The worst. Don’t ever do it. If you had grown up with my parents, it would have been real weird for you. I didn't grow up with both of them, but growing up with even one of them was not—I mean, I was on the movie-star map. When I was three hours old, I was photographed by Modern Screen. I don't like being photographed. My father is now publicly saying that he took a lot of drugs. I don’t remember that. I spent my summers in Vegas. That was camp to me—sitting by the pool and hearing that weird music and having people paged.
playboy: Was there anything in your father's book that embarrassed you?
fisher: I read some of it. He can’t embarrass me. I don’t own him. That’s how he wanted to work out his life: to write about it and gain that perspective. I read it to see whether or not he talked badly about my mother. They’re not on good terms.
playboy: Growing up with prominent breasts, were you made to feel any particular way about them?
fisher: Breasts? Mine? I don’t even think about myself like that. In Shampoo, it’s true. For Star Wars, they had me tape down my breasts, because there are no breasts in space. Camera tape, gaffer tape. At the end of every day, I was going to draw a lottery and one of the crew could rip off the tape. 1 never did it, though. Actually, my mother is more famous for her breasts than I could ever be for mine. Groucho Marx, in front of Nate ’n Als, once told me she had a great chest. He was going to visit her in the hospital to see if they were real. He also said that on the Cavett show. So I have some. I have two.
playboy: We have heard that you are financially set for life. What unexpected things has that allowed you to do?
fisher: I have this house and I have an apartment in New York. And I can always pick up the check for dinner. I'm pretty comfortable financially, but you never are for very long. If you make a lot of money, taxes come screaming to your door and take most of it away. I've done well for somebody who’s 20. Unfortunately, I was brought up real privileged. That allows you material comfort, which I always had. It allowed me not to be financially dependent on my mother at 18 and to live real comfortably and travel and do things. I don't do ridiculous things with money. My business manager has socked mine away so hard. I'm loath to buy a chair. One of my mother's biggest threats was always that she'd take away my Saks card. Now I don't even have one. Money is a nice thing to have. Everything you see here I own.
playboy: On what do you spend exorbitant amounts of money?
fisher: I take a lot of lessons. I do a lot of intensive seminars. I travel a lot. I spend a lot on clothes and sexy lingerie, video tapes and books and furniture and primitive folk art. It's best to buy art if you really know what you’re buying. I like Magritte and a guy named Donald Roller Wilson. I like surrealists. I have such anxiety about money.
playboy: Do you oversee your own investments and bills?
fisher: Yeah, but they don't make that much sense to me. Just enough so I know I’m not being railroaded. I don’t turn everything over to my business manager.
playboy: Are you a corporation?
fisher: Yup. Deliquesce. Paul Simon named it for me. It means melting. He’s into etymology, as am I, slightly. He knows all these real strange words. That’s the strangest of them all.
playboy: Is there a social etiquette for being rich?
fisher: Not that I'm aware of but probably so. I’m completely unconscious and underwater about it. If I want to do something that costs a lot of money and I want to do it with someone who doesn’t have much money, I'll pay. Everybody contributes something. If all I contribute is money, I feel really terrible, because I would like my contribution to be more than that. But if I want to go somewhere and this particular person can’t afford it, the etiquette on that is "I'll pay for you to come if you’ll come." It all evens out, I think. It’s never been a problem that I pick up more than my share of bar bills.
playboy: How can men impress you?
fisher: Lifting weights. Saving people from drowning. Diving off a building. Setting themselves on fire. I'm totally impressed. They impress me if they can have a good time most of the time. When they don't struggle in their lives, that's impressive.
playboy: What won't you do on a first date?
fisher: I won't marry the guy. I won’t get engaged. I won’t have anyone's child. I'm fond of kissing. It’s part of my job. God sent me down to kiss a lot of people. I usually meet people in a group. Actually, I don't date, so I don’t know what I would or wouldn't do. I'll date awhile this week and get back to you.
playboy. With whom would you want to spend your life, Yoda or E.T.?
fisher: Yoda’s a little better-looking. E.T. seems like a much more pleasant person. He seems real nice, but Yoda is a teacher, and I like learning things. At this point, let me say E.T., because he’s so much more popular. I like Yoda. I like that he's smaller than I am. It's like The Dating Game with extraterrestrials: “Extraterrestrial Number One. how far would I have to go on our first date—Pluto or Uranus, so to speak?"
playboy: At its leanest, what does your purse contain?
fisher: Oh, fuck. I’ve got everything in here. What do you want? I always feel as if I'm moving. I haven't lived in one place for about four years. I have my passport, my checkbook, my beeper for the phone, postcards; it's nuts. I carry books with me. It weighs four or five pounds. I have another purse in it. I have all this junk. I don’t even know what it is. And that’s lean. It's frightening. I don't know how to minimize those contents. It’s like having a backpack everywhere I go. I think life is an eternal campground.
[Source: Playboy, July 1983 P.152-153,204,206. Copyright © 1983 Playboy. All rights reserved.]