Dear Carrie Fisher,
I’ve decided to write you this letter, after watching The Force Awakens, because I think the event of this film is significant. And I’ll be honest, my first comment after hearing you would be in a new Star Wars film was, “Dear lord, please just let her write her own lines.” When it became evident in the midst of the film that you would not, as I had hoped, be playing an older Leia with some intergalactic version of an ecigarette and a space martini who swore like a star sailor I’ll admit I was a teensy bit disappointed. I mean, I get why. They had to give Harrison Ford all the good lines since—spoiler alert—he might not have as many in the next film…
But I was also thinking, come on J.J. Abrams and co. (Who, no doubt, are now hearing every incidental complaint by every crazed, too-involved, get-a-life fan around the globe. And now I’m one of them. Well, you know, they asked for it. And this point aside, considering all the expectations, they made a really fun film.) Have they not read your books? Are they not aware of your public persona? I read the Entertainment Weekly article that said that Harrison Ford really is Han Solo. You’re not Princess Leia. You’re Carrie Fisher. But oh the opportunity to make General Leia a tough-talking, no-nonsense, kick *ss-and-make-snarky-comments-like “Will someone get this big walking carpet out of my way?” seems just so obvious.
I have to be up front with you. I’m one of those. I’m a Star Wars fan. When I was a teenager and my parents told my growing tomboy self I should be more of a “lady” I found few role models. Most were passive, girly, and wholly unlike who I wanted to be. Princess Leia was a “lady” (albeit in a male space fantasy) and if I could be more like Princess Leia and be a lady, I could be okay with that. As I grew up and grew out of the weird obsessed with Star Wars phase (admittedly, not totally, given I used to throw Star Wars parties for my nieces and nephews, which was a slim excuse to dress up in costumes and eat “wookie cookies”) I would tell my acting students that they should find their persona, and mine was a combination of Bonnie Hunt, Flannery O’Connor, and you. Not Leia, Carrie Fisher. You.
Maybe it’s me. Maybe it’s the week I had. My preparation for seeing The Force Awakens was not to watch the original trilogy, but listen to you reading the audiobook version of your autobiography Wishful Drinking. To be candid, it’s been a hell of a week. Mostly personal stuff I won’t bore you with, like my fiancée getting bad health news, my surrogate adopted daughter having a terrible Christmas (again), and my workplace laying more people off after we all made concessions so they wouldn’t. There was also the showdown in my house that left cats we are watching fighting and ruining presents by peeing under the tree. That was fun. Or, well, you get the idea. I actually said to someone this week, “Well, at least bombs aren’t falling out of the sky.” It was that week.
I’ve got a lot going for me right now. Just published a book. Engaged. Surrounded by people I love who are special to me. But there is also this ***t. And as I’m listening to your book, I hear you talk about one interviewer asking you if you were happy and you responding, “Among other things.” That’s my mantra this week. Lots of good. Lots of not. Happy, yes, among other things.
See, this is the thing. I know General Leia is really motherly. I like this about her. And I’m assuming they will develop your character over the next films, especially with her son and semi?* daughter. But when I think about fighting the Dark Side. I think about fear and hate and anger and depression, and how you, Carrie Fisher, have fought them. As I listen to your book, I feel empowered. We are only as sick as our secrets. It’s a powerful thing you do, telling your story. Your full acceptance of who you are and your own humanity, that’s what makes you a role model. It’s how your celebrity becomes a gift. You use humor and your own experience to help other people find some perspective. Life has beaten you up. But you’re turning the bad stuff in your past into fuel for a better future.
I know everyone has their own wants for the reboot of Star Wars. And you looked beautiful on screen (side note, your gown in the final scene, how long will it take people to figure out that you are, well, not tall? The neckline was lovely but… That aside, I loved Leia’s new hair). But, well, I don’t know how much say you have. Should I forward this to J.J. Abram’s office? Maybe in a spinoff? I mean, you’re a writer. You have a gift with words. You were married to Paul Simon for heaven’s sake. You’ve doctored how many Hollywood scripts? Can they give you a pass on the next one? I just think, here’s this gifted writer, and she understands celebrity and how persona is a part of the characters you play. For better or worse, Leia is a part of you and you are her. She does not exist without you. Not really. So couldn’t they just give you some more free reign? Leia has had some really awful stuff happen. So have you. I think you, Carrie Fisher, have some important perspective on light and dark, and I think Leia should share that.
I’d end with something like, “This is our most desperate hour” but I think that might be a tad hyperbolic. You’re not our only hope. You’re not a new hope. But, you get hope. You understand the importance of a sense of humor. I trust J.J. Abrams knows that, and is planning on it for the future.
(An embarrassingly big one. I saw you do your one-woman show in Columbus, Ohio a few years ago. I didn’t scream “You’re awesome, Carrie!” or faint or anything like that. But I kinda wanted to.)
*I’m placing bets now she’s Kylo Ren’s twin sister, whose memory was erased by her Uncle Luke. See, I told you I was one of those nerds.