On Dec. 27, fans of iconic actor, writer, and mental health advocate Carrie Fisher were saddened by the announcement that Carrie Fisher has died at the age of 60 following reported heart trouble that led to her hospitalization on Dec. 23. A spokesperson for the Fisher family told People,
Though Fisher became a household name through her portrayal of Princess (and later General) Leia Organa in the Star Wars franchise, she was also a celebrated writer and mental health advocate. But before her rich and multitalented career took off, she was a 19-year-old unknown — and nothing quite captures her rise to fame like this old Carrie Fisher interview from 1977.
Born to famous actress and singer Debbie Reynolds and entertainer Eddie Fisher, before the Star Wars movies, Fisher was no stranger to the performing arts. At 19 years old, she was cast as Princess Leia, beating out dozens of actresses for the role, including big names like Sissy Spacek, Meryl Streep, and Sigourney Weaver. The film was released on May 25, 1977 — and a mere two weeks later, on June 4, 1977, Carrie Fisher gave this interview with Austin television personality Carolyn Jackson.
In it, Fisher clearly has no idea yet what a massive, enduring success Star Wars would be, or that it would span generations of fans who are queuing in endless lines for tickets to see new films in the franchise to this day. But it is clear from this interview that even at 20, Fisher was already the grounded, decisive woman that we eventually came to know in the public eye.
There are plenty of playful moments in the interview — Fisher's Jawa impersonation is on point, for instance, and she shares fun anecdotes about the scariest moments to film, her family, and going out to eat lunch with the cast while in full costume.
But the interview is especially poignant because Carrie Fisher would later go on to explain that throughout the course of her filming the first Star Wars movie she didn't quite feel like she belonged, writing in her 2016 autobiography The Princess Diarist that her journals from that time come across as "insecure" and "sad".
Of course, her success with the role is now famously timeless, and was fittingly resurrected as General Leia Organa of the Resistance in 2015's The Force Awakens. However, in the time between those movies, Fisher made a name for herself in other ways: she script-doctored a number of successful films throughout the '90s, including Hook, Sister Act, Lethal Weapon 3, and The Wedding Singer, published several novels, and became a critical voice in ending mental health stigma with her openness about her struggles with bipolar disorder and drug addiction.
Naturally, when this 1977 interview occurred, none of that had yet come to pass; and there is perhaps no line quite as sweet or humming with her potential as when Jackson prompted, "And the critics say it's going to be the movie of the year, Carrie," to which then 20-year-old Fisher replied: "Oh, I hope so."