I haven’t written in weeks. I feel stiff and incapable. Everything I’ve tried to write in that time has been unfit for public consumption—rambling, self-indulgent, self-hating. That said, I’ll take Carrie Fisher’s death as an impetus and will write to honor to her. According to a family spokesperson, she died at 8:55 a.m., in Los Angeles, after suffering a heart attack on a flight back from London on Friday. I saw her in her last public appearance live on the Graham Norton Show on BBC America. She was funny, charming, self-deprecating, and sharp. It’s hard to imagine the world without her, or that someone so full of life last week will lie in the ground this week.
Since 1977 she has been my hero. She’s failed and started again showing as much courage, strength, and ingenuity as Leia herself. I’ve always told my students to push themselves into the market using whatever was at their disposal and never wait for anyone’s permission. Fisher could have faded into history after Return of The Jedi, but she didn’t. Most would and have, particularly most actresses. Who can carry the weight of such a character as Princess Leia then go on to seize other roles and carve out other spaces in Hollywood? Women fade more quickly than men. But not Carrie Fisher. She took smaller roles and all the while wrote and wrote and wrote. She emerged as a force that no one could ignore. And while she never escaped the specter of Princess Leia, she never let it hold her back. Always one to laugh at herself, she embraced it, in the end, and was both Carrie Fisher and Leia simultaneously—finding that, perhaps the two had more in common than any of us really understood.
Forgive this sappy eulogy. I’m not saying anything others have not or will not say in the weeks to come. She was a national treasure and an icon in her own time. She was also a deeply flawed woman who never got in the way of her career or her talent. I wish I could say the same.
Oh Carrie, my Carrie, 2016 has been a terrible year and now we’ve lost you too.