Star Wars At 40 - Carrie Fisher – Lunch With Monsters At A Chinese Restaurant
First published in Science Fiction, Horror & Fantasy (Magazine) – Fall /Winter 1977.
In STAR WARS, Carrie Fisher has a film role that measures up to her fantasy life. She portrays the beautiful Princess Leia, a senator from the plant Alderaan and a rebel-leader working secretly for freedom and justice against the oppressive, evil Galactic Empire.
“When I made my first film, SHAMPOO, my scene was shot in Beverly Hills, which is where I grew up. I wore this little tennis outfit, which was something I might wear in real life. It wasn’t at all what I expected making movies would be,” Carrie Fisher said. “I grew up watching movies and they always seemed like adult recess. And that’s exactly what making STAR WARS turned out to be – a kind of adult recess. I got to go to lunch with outerspace monsters at a Chinese restaurant.”
Born October 21, 1956, the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Carrie Fisher is five foot one with dark hair and large dark eyes. She was brought up in the show-business-oriented world of Beverly Hills and made her professional debut at the age of thirteen in her mother’s nightclub act. After appearing in SHAMPOO she attended the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. She had been approached to do several motion picture roles following the stir her brief scene in SHAMPOO had created, but none of them really interested her until she read and was tested for STAR WARS.
“I wanted to do the role of Princess Leia because I wanted to have real conversations with people with bubbles on their heads,” Carrie explained, “I just wanted to be blasé about someone sitting across from me being a ‘small person’ or some strange looking person who was hired through the Ugly Agency. I love that there’s an agency in London called that. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to be casually sitting around with those people as if they didn’t have hair-dryer heads and things like that. I wanted to sit next to Wookies, which are tall, half-man, half-ape creatures, Jawas, which are tiny, shrouded creatures with glowing eyes, and all kinds of robots.
“The people in the restaurant wouldn’t react. I thought that was terrific. And we were in Borehamwood, which is the English version of Crazylady, Wyoming. If I saw someone who was seven foot two, like Peter Mayhew, who plays Chewbacca the Wookiee, with someone like me, who is really small, and all of the rest of the weird looking cast, I certainly would react. We looked like a Fellini congregation entering this little Chinese restaurant.”
“Although I never read much science fiction before I made STAR WARS I had a kind of active space fantasy life all my own.”
When asked about her feelings about making a space fantasy film such as STAR WARS, Carrie admits that she enjoyed doing the stunts. “Especially swinging across the Death Star chasm. I was scared to death. And when I finally did it, I felt like my body was being ventilated from the inside. But it was a different kind of terror. And I knew it wasn’t going to be fun to do. I was really afraid of doing something wrong. I was sort of sorry we got it right on the first take. Once I got over the initial shock of doing it, I wanted to do it again. I still do. And that’s why I hope they do a sequel with lots of swings across chasms in it.”