“I had never been Princess Leia before and now I would be her forever. I would never not be Princess Leia. I had no idea how profoundly true that was and how long forever was.”
Carrie Fisher was a character unto herself, and it’s no surprise that her memoir, The Princess Diarist, is every bit as quirky, funny, feeling, and sarcastic as she was (this is a great book to listen to versus reading as it was narrated by Carrie and her daughter, Billie). Carrie Fisher lived a wild, crazy, and extremely loved life, and this memoir, the last book that Carrie gave to the world, is wonderful.
A lot of books that fall into the non-fiction category tend to ramble on and on and/or be very dry reading or listening. What I like about memoirs is they tend to be full of emotion and life, and the stories they tell come alive. The basis for this memoir is said to be from Fisher finding the diaries she kept during her Star Wars days (late teens/early twenties) that chronicled everything. Despite having two famous parents, Fisher never set out to become an actress, though she did have to audition like anyone else – many times with no luck, it was something she fell into and rolled with. Her acting debut came at sixteen when she appeared in the Broadway revival of Irene in 1973, which starred her mother, Debbie Reynolds; with her film debut happening in 1975 in the comedy Shampoo. This all culminated in an audition for George Lucas for a role that would come to define her fame and make her a household name around the world.
One of the big selling points of this memoir was that Fisher (nineteen at the time) talked about her intense three-month affair with co-star Harrison Ford (thirty-four and married at the time) during the filming of the movies. After keeping it a secret for forty years, I recently read in an article from 2018 that she did come to regret revealing the affair. Hearing what Fisher was feeling during this time is enlightening, and hearing how she looked back at that time in hindsight is both heartbreaking and insightful; the tales of a young girl trying to find her place in the world, and the woman years later still trying to find where she truly belonged.
Diaries are such a personal and intimate thing that getting a look like this into the mind and soul of the writer creates a bond. To see who they were and what they were feeling at that exact moment is an honor and a responsibility. Fisher’s words about the effect being Princess Leia had on her life, both at the beginning and toward the end, drives home how much this one role at the beginning of her career stayed with her. Many actors worry about being pigeonholed in their careers, and though Fisher had a variety of roles in her life, she will forever be known as Princess Leia – even to those who are not Star Wars fans. This isn’t a bad thing, as many girls look up to Princess Leia, and later General Organa, but I don’t think many realize the effect it had on her mentally and emotionally as she grew.
Whether one is a fan of Star Wars or not, this is an interesting look into the mind of one of its biggest stars and how it shaped her as she grew. It’s worth a read or a listen and may give you a few chuckles, that is if it doesn’t get you reminiscing on your own time at being nineteen.