Fisher was less forthcoming about her recently revealed affair with co-star Harrison Ford, brushing it away with an embarrassed laugh. “I can’t handle it,” she joked with a sort of mock mortification. “I’m sure he can’t handle it at all.”
The he, of course, is Ford, the Han Solo to her Princess Leia, and the main subject and primary revelation of her new memoir The Princess Diarist (Blue Rider Press). “It was too big of a story,” Fisher told Colbert when asked why she’s telling the tale after all these years. “It was 40 years ago. If I’d waited 50, I’d have looked worse, so that’s why now is the right time.”
Fisher, accompanied by her long-tongued bulldog Gary, told Colbert of how, after being ordered to lose 10 pounds before filming began on Star Wars, she attended a “fat farm” whose other dieters included former FLOTUS Lady Bird Johnson and advice columnist Ann Landers. “She had a lot of advice for me,” Fisher said, “which obviously I didn’t take.”
That story is included in the new memoir that, unlike her famous Postcards From the Edge, revisits her Star Wars days – and nights. She was inspired to write the book after coming across diaries she wrote and stashed away (under floorboards) many years ago, some pages of which are reproduced in the book.
Mostly though, the old, girlish journals are the springboard for some mostly fond, occasionally painful memories, recounted in Diarist with Fisher’s celebrated humor and chatty, whisper-in-your-ear candor. Most of the memoir focuses on her three-month affair with the married Ford, an indiscretion she attributes to the loneliness of location shooting and a 19-year-old imagination that had her secretly dreaming of a happily-ever-after duo she now jokingly calls “Carrison.”
The relationship – the two remain friendly – wasn’t so much rocky then as barely discussed, with her affectionate take on Ford presenting him as a silent, charismatic and impossibly handsome Marlboro Man rarely engaging in anything more than gruff camaraderie and weekend romps. It was a no-strings-attached endeavor, though Fisher clearly developed stronger strings than her leading man, who sat, seemingly without a care in the world, next to his Princess on their economy flight home from the London shoot – he to his wife, she to a slightly wounded heart and a chance to regale friends with on-location tales of what she was sure would be a come-and-go little sci-fi flick.
Fisher’s other, more lasting relationship – with the role that made her career – is examined throughout the book, most bracingly in a section about her gradual acceptance of the “celebrity lap dance” at events like Comic Con. After long dismissing the possibility of making a living from selling autographs (70 bucks a pop), Fisher chronicles her acceptance of the past and how to profit from it.
“How did I get here,” she writes. “I didn’t need money this badly, did I? Well, that all depends on your definition of need.” Though she had considerable cash in her 20s, she says, “two decades and a pilfering business manager” – as well as a very carefree attitude towards shopping – left her out of money and living in a “house the bank lets me live in, for now.”
“I had become a poor rich person,” Fisher writes, dismissing public assumptions that Star Wars left her with lasting wealth. “Not by a long, long, long shot. Holding out for points or a piece of the merchandising was not an option for – or even something that would ever have occurred to – a nineteen-year-old signing on for her first lead role in a little space movie.”
All of which leads to Comic Con, which Fisher writes about first with suspicion and then endearment. “There’s something incredibly sweet and mystifying about people waiting in lines for so long,” she writes, adding, “The Star Wars films touched them in some incredibly profound or significant way.”
Fisher hilariously recounts her encounters with Comic Con fans, many of whom include men who crushed on Leia way back when, women who were inspired by her and their children who are, frankly, horrified at what she’s become. Recalling one of the latter, Fisher tells of a little girl brought to the convention by her parents and seeing what the actress calls her “melted” face: “‘No!,’ she wailed, squirming her head away from the sight of me. ‘I want the other Leia, not the old one.'”
The Princess Diarist is full of anecdotes like that, self-deprecating but bursting with the strength of a woman who knows herself as well as anyone can, a memoir of great affection for old days, an old friend and the movie that brought both of them lasting fame if not fortune.