Carrie Fisher, who died Tuesday at the age of 60, will always be associated with “Star Wars” and her performance in the popular movie series as Princess Leia. But she didn’t fully embrace the spotlight that came with the role, at least not when the first “Star Wars” film was released in 1977.
Fisher told TODAY’s Matt Lauer in a 2008 interview that she didn’t want to follow in the footsteps of her famous parents, actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher, and become an entertainer, after seeing what they went through.
“I watched my parents’ celebrity dwindle .... I saw the heartbreak of celebrity and went, ‘Get me away from that!’” she said.
Ironic, then, that she ended up with a major part in one of the biggest movie franchises of all time. At the time, she told Lauer, she had no idea how much fame it would bring her.
“I would have never done it!” she exclaimed. “And all I did when I was really famous was wait for it to end because I knew that was coming up.”
She had a more lighthearted reaction during an appearance on TODAY with co-stars Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill in 1977, the year “Episode IV” was released. The always-witty actress recalled that she’d been recognized by a guy who’d seen “Star Wars” 12 times ... and that she played a joke on him.
“I first told him I was the prize, that the 20th Century Fox office had heard he'd seen it 12 times and he got a free date with the princess and a bucket of popcorn,” she said with a smile. “He believed it.”
Of course, Fisher was much more than just Princess Leia. She was a refreshingly honest human being, a mental health advocate who was open about her battles with depression and bipolar disorder. It was something she didn't feel the need to keep to herself.
“People make fun of it or don’t want anyone to know. Man, I don’t care. It’s like a war story,” she told Lauer in 2008.
She was also frank when it came to her relationships, including her on-and-off romance with Paul Simon, which she discussed while serving as a guest co-host alongside Hoda Kotb in 2012.
Fisher referenced the musician as one of the loves of her life, saying, “He’s a great artist ... it was like being apprenticed to someone who was brilliant.”
Carrie Fisher was brilliant, too, and we will miss her.