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Friday, September 9, 2011
13 things you didn't know about Carrie Fisher
CNN's Geek Out Series
Please don't hurt me, dear Geek Out! readers, but I'm really not a sci-fi fan convention kind of person.
Which is why the fact that I went to Dragon*Con, one of the biggest sci-fi conventions in the country, should tell you how much I love "Star Wars" heroine Carrie Fisher.
To put it another way, I once joked to my mom, "I'm thinking of developing a crippling drug addiction to deal with all the stress in my life." Her response: "You mean, so you can write a hilarious autobiography like Carrie Fisher?" Yes. Exactly.
I love Fisher's smart writing, her brutal honesty and her self-deprecating sense of humor enough to brave the crowd of 40,000+ people at last weekend's Dragon*Con. I sat in the front row of the audience at her panel, grinning like a total dork at Princess Leia and writing down everything she said, just for you. Well, mostly for me. But also for you.
So, here are some things I learned about the fabulous Ms. Fisher:
1. If you are a big enough fan, she'll make out with you. During the Q&A portion of Fisher's D*C panel, a fan asked her for her name card as a souvenir. Fisher said yes and invited her down to the front to get it, then proceeded to lean across the table and give the woman a kiss smack on the lips. "Just in time for same-sex marriage!" Fisher proudly announced after the lip-lock.
2. She has a love-hate relationship with George Lucas. In her bestselling memoir and one-woman show, "Wishful Drinking," Fisher tells her readers, "George Lucas ruined my life."
One reason for that? The costumes she had to wear in as Princess Leia in Star Wars. Fisher told the D*C crowd that while she hated the white dress from "A New Hope," the famed metal bikini in "Return of the Jedi" was the worst of all.
"When I laid down, the metal bikini stayed up," she explained. "So Boba Fett could see all the way to Florida."
But Fisher also enjoyed working with Lucas, even though, according to her, he "doesn't have a personality, per se."
"My best memory with George" was writing “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles”, she said. "He bought me a lamp for doing it. And Sean Lennon broke it." 3. Dan Akroyd saved her life and she almost married him in return. Fisher starred in "The Blues Brothers" with Dan Akroyd and John Belushi. Belushi set her up with Akroyd (whom she calls Danny, by the way), and after a Brussels sprout-related mishap, the two ended up engaged.
"I almost choked on some kind of vegetable that I shouldn't have been eating: Brussels sprouts!" Fisher explained. "So he had to give me the Heimlich maneuver. He saved my life, and then he asked me to marry him. And I thought…wow, what if that happens again? I should probably marry him."
"When I was going to have the kissing scene with John, he went around the set singing 'My Best Friend's Girl,'" she added, laughing. 4. She has drugs named after her. "There is a marijuana called Princess Leia," Fisher informed us. "My daughter's boyfriend tried to get a discount."
5. She has a kind of awesome fashion sense. Thanks to a partnership with diet company Jenny Craig, Fisher has lost a lot of weight recently (she joked that she's trying to get back in the metal bikini), and she looks fantastic.
At the Dragon*Con panel, she was positively adorable in a black, long-sleeved A-line dress with two giant, hot pink polka dots on the side pockets.
She also had dangly, matte gold Pac-Man earrings. Pac-Man earrings! One was Pac-Man, and the other was a ghost.
And, as usual for Fisher, her face was covered in glitter (she makes the sparkly mix herself). She once explained to Craig Ferguson that the glitter is her attempt to embarrass her daughter, Billie, 19.
6. She's infectious. Fisher is very open about the fact that she has bipolar disorder, and regularly writes and speaks about the topic. Her Dragon*Con panel was no exception.
Multiple fans stood up to say that they, too, suffered from the disorder, and thanked Fisher for her willingness to talk about it. In response, she jokingly apologized to the crowd: "It's infectious, you know. I've created an epidemic of bipolar people." (In case any fellow con-goers are starting to get worried, it's not, and she hasn't.)
"It's a very good crowd to be in," she added, taking a drag on an electronic cigarette. "You gotta have balls to be bipolar."
7. She loves her fans as much as they love her. "It's really hard to be self-loathing when you have a group of people like yourselves," Fisher told panel attendees. And, in return, she gave them what they wanted to hear:
"I can tell you shit," Fisher intimated to the audience as soon as she walked out and sat down. "Or I could make up stuff about Star Trek people. They're all bad in bed."
8. Her books are her memory. Fisher has undergone electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) as part of her treatment for bipolar disorder. One unfortunate side effect of ECT is that it can cause memory loss. Luckily, Fisher has preserved many of those lost memories in her novels.
"It's fun for me to go back and look at them because they are very autobiographical and I have a bad memory," she said. "So it's like having this memory in bookstores. I was reading 'Surrender the Pink' and I remember my relationship with Paul [Simon] that I'd forgotten. It's stuff that I'm embarrassed by now, though."
Her favorite title? "’Delusions of Grandma,’ because I wrote it when I was such a mess," said Fisher. "I was so emotional. That book is the rawest. I like that one."
9. She's a dedicated Democrat. Fisher has a new book, "Shockaholic," coming out sometime this fall (she's not exactly sure when, saying the process has been "a clusterf*** of insanity"). But instead of plugging her own book to the crowd, she dissed someone else's:
"Please don't buy [Dick] Cheney's book," she pleaded.
Further demonstrating her affinity for the Democratic party, Fisher added that she once dated Senator Chris Dodd. "I never was going to tell about that, but he started talking about it," she said.
10. She is privy to way too much information. "Like many geeks here of a certain age, I was very fond of you, growing up," one male fan intimated to Fisher, causing her head to crash down onto the table in front of her and the crowd to groan.
According to "Wishful Drinking," this is not an uncommon occurrence.
11. She thinks she's a terrible actress. "I was never that great of an actor," Fisher said, drawing protests from the crowd. By way of illustration, she repeated one of her lines from Star Wars, using her pseudo-English accent that was, admittedly, pretty inconsistent throughout the three films: "I thought I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board."
12. She lives next door to her tap-dancing mom. You may have heard of Carrie Fisher's mother, triple threat Debbie Reynolds of "Singin' in the Rain" and "Tammy" fame. (And by "may have" I mean "obviously have," because if you haven't, you probably aren't reading this blog.)
Anyway, Fisher lives right next door to her mom in Los Angeles. "When we're together, it's like we're a show," she said. "We're not like real humans anymore."
13. She's an awesome/terrible role model. Okay, so maybe Carrie Fisher isn't the all-around best role model you could have. She's a drug addict. She has, shall we say, a creative vocabulary. And at the panel, she said "I'm so sorry" to a fan who described her as a role model.
But, at the same time, there's plenty to admire. She's an amazing writer and comic. She's survived bipolar disorder that went undiagnosed for much of her life. And she doesn't feel sorry for herself or take herself too seriously.
"When things are good now, they're great, because I know how bad they can be," Fisher shared.
And, of course, almost everything she said lives up to her motto: "If my life wasn't funny, it would just be true, and that is unacceptable."