#AmReading: Carrie Fisher’s Last Memoir, ‘The Princess Diarist’

If you’ve ever wondered what life behind the scenes was like for Carrie Fisher on the set of Star Wars: A New Hope, you’ll get the answers you’re looking for in The Princess Diarist. Written by Fisher, and published shortly before her death in 2016, The Princess Diarist covers the actress’s experiences during the film’s shoot and her thoughts 40 years later.

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Through Fisher’s unique voice and sharp sense of humor, she recounts her introduction to the Star Wars universe, her role as Princess Leia and the actors she would share a screen with for three additional movies. While enlightening and funny, the book gets rather dark. For the first time, Carrie Fisher publicly shares her relationship with fellow actor Harrison Ford.

…And it’s not what you would expect.

The Princess Diarist
Photo: Amazon

Carrie Fisher Before Star Wars

Before she gets into the nitty-gritty of what being Princess Leia was like, Fisher shares stories about her pre-Star Wars days. This includes her audition for and role in the film Shampoo, her return to school, and her first boyfriend. She likewise shares anecdotes about what it was like growing up with Debbie Reynolds as her mother and a father who wasn’t always there.

These stories and experiences set up the foundation for her feelings on acting and fame. And why she didn’t want to be a big, famous movie star. She notes there are, in fact, differences between being an actor and a movie star.

“Carisson”

The Princess Diarist-Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford
The photo included in ‘The Princess Diarist’, AP Photo/George Brich

The real focus of The Princess Diarist is the story of Carrison, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford’s “relationship” during the three-month shoot of Star Wars. It isn’t a happy story. In 1976, Fisher was 19 and Ford was in his mid-30s. And married.

It all started after a birthday party for George Lucas at their London set. Being the only girl there, Fisher was pressured into drinking too much by members of the crew and was seemingly rescued by Ford. Pretty heroic, right? It is until the details of what followed emerge.

What happened when they were alone in the car together. What happened when they got to Fisher’s home. And what happened about every Friday throughout the rest of the shoot. It’s an emotional story. One that Fisher struggles to justify and make peace within her telling of it. She’s realistic in her understanding that Ford wouldn’t be leaving his wife for her. There was no future for them together. She’s aware of what they were doing.

She was also insecure, eager to please others, and 15 years younger than Ford. Add drug use into the mix, provided by Ford, and you get a completely different relationship than the ones fans see between Leia and Han Solo on screen.

Carrie Fisher’s Journal

To help her cope with the roller coaster of emotions during this time, Fisher kept a number of journals. These contained her thoughts, inner monologue, and even some poetry she wrote during the Star Wars shoot. After finding these journals in her home years later, she decided to include a few entries in The Princess Diarist for fans to see.

These entries are shared after we learn of the Carrison relationship and shed more light on what that experience was like for her. Most of the poems or stories appear to be about Ford, even if he isn’t mentioned by name. They’re worth reading. And re-reading.

The rest provide insights into Fisher’s mind. We get to see first-hand how important writing was to her. How draining it was to be what other people wanted her to be. How difficult it can be to get in your own head too much. Just before all the Star Wars fame would hit her, Carrie Fisher was already struggling. In ways that are completely relatable.

Thoughts On The Star Wars Fandom

Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamil, Harrison Ford at ComicCon
Photo: GeekShot/James

The last section of The Princess Diarist covers Fisher’s thoughts on the Star Wars fandom and its growth over 40 years. Referring to signing autographs for cash as “lap dances,” she shares her dislike for being mistaken for the princess (Carrie and Leia are not the same people), for fans being upset she no longer looked the same, and her thoughts on conventions like Comic-Con.

With all that, she includes what she liked about the fans and what Princess Leia had done for her. While her affair with Ford ended once the film shoot finished, her feelings towards him were still complicated. Add that to multiple appearances together during press shoots, more movies, and conventions. In the end, she answers the question fans have asked for years.

If you weren’t Princess Leia, who would you be? She answers simply,” I’d be me. You know, Carrie. Just me.”

The Princess Diarist: Final Thoughts

Considering the topics Carrie Fisher shares in this [amazon_textlink asin=’0399185798′ text=’memoir’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thedaifan-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8c3406f1-9149-11e8-94b7-c76dc467059b’], it’s difficult to read at times. But worth it. Leia and Carrie are NOT the same people. Leia and Han are NOT Carrison. Her telling in The Princess Diarist is straight-forward in typical Carrie Fisher fashion.

At times it’s crass, and then a moment later it’s deep and insightful. At a time when the media and fans were shipping not only Leia and Han but Fisher and Ford, there was so much more going on behind the scenes. Since then, her brother’s memoir, My Girls: A Lifetime with Debbie and Carrie, revealed that Fisher regretted revealing the affair in her book.

So it’s up to readers and fans to determine how they feel about what happened. If it’s a typical mutual Hollywood affair or a case of being taken advantage of. Or is it more complex than that? Either way, Fisher’s last memoir provides some thought-provoking insight into her early days as Princess Leia and the emotional turmoil that came with it.

She is still, and always will be, our princess. But she’s also Carrie, too.

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