Carrie Fisher was a young vivacious actress with a budding movie career when she was cast as Princess Leia in the first Star Wars movie in 1977. Her life was never the same afterward, and it’s possible the character may ultimately have killed her.
Daughter Billie Lourd says in a new interview her mother found it “hard” at times to “break away” from the part.
She was cast in the role when she was just 19.
Fisher began using drugs as a teenager, including the powerful hallucinogenic LSD.
She never kicked the habit, which she said was fueled by a bi-polar disorder and the pressure of fame, largely from her “Star Wars” role.
“My mom used to say she never knew where Princess Leia ended and Carrie Fisher began,” Lourd told Town & Country magazine.
Carrie also said as much in a telling 2008 interview while promoting her fifth book “Wishful Thinking.”
Had she known how big the movie would become, “I would never have done it. All I did when I was really famous was wait for it to end,” she told “Today” show host Matt Lauer.
But it never ended.
The movie was a mega-hit that continues to spawn sequels to this day. Fisher had a cameo appearance as Leia in 2015 sequel “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
“That was hard for her. It’s tough, when you play an iconic character, to break away from it. You have to make sure you have a lot of variety, and make sure you choose roles that aren’t similar to others, or else you get pigeonholed as one thing,” said daughter Billie.
“I don’t know if I would play a woman in space in a bikini. You also have to be careful about getting over-sexualized, and that was hard for her,” she added.
In the wake of her mother’s death, Billie, 25, says she wants to lead a conversation to help reducing the stigma surrounding mental health and addiction.
“A lot of people have had experiences like mine, too. Tons of people grow up with mentally ill parents who have drug problems … And it’s such a common thing, and people really don’t talk about it. She talked about being mentally ill and having issues with drugs, and a lot of people don’t talk about what it was like growing up with that.”
Fisher was born into Hollywood royalty in the 1950s. Her parents were singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds.
Fisher left Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor and the resulting divorce was so scandalous it ruined Fisher’s singing career. Carrie was a toddler at the time. But she grew up amid a whirlwind of Hollywood excess.
“I saw the heartbreak of celebrity,” she told Lauer.
She said her drug use was a form of self-medication to even out her wild mood swings.
Fisher revealed that she started using cocaine during the filming of “The Empire Strikes Back,” the 1980 sequel to “Star Wars.”
“Slowly, I realized I was doing a bit more drugs than other people and losing my choice in the matter,” she noted in another interview.
Despite stints in rehab and a period when she received electroshock therapy, she could not kick the habit.
Fisher was likely binging on heroin, cocaine and ecstasy before suffering a heart attack last December while on a flight from London to LA. All three drugs, plus others, were found in her system, according to an autopsy report.
“She was imperfect in many ways but her imperfections and willingness to speak about them are what made her more than perfect,” says Billie.