NEW YORK (Reuters) - Actress, writer and daughter of famous Hollywood parents, Carrie Fisher has often exposed her life for fans, but never quite so much as in her one-woman show, “Wishful Drinking.”
The 2009 stage production makes its way to cable TV’s HBO on Sunday as a full-length documentary of her life that combines archived film footage with a taping of “Wishful Drinking” in front of a live theater audience.
The “Star Wars” actress and daughter of Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds weaves a witty tapestry of her 54 years, littered with alcoholism, drug addiction and bipolar disorder, and revealing her famous family.
Reuters spoke to Fisher about the show.
Q: In “Wishful Drinking”, you’re on stage for nearly 90 minutes, singing and interacting with the audience. Was there any special preparation for such a demanding role?
A: “Clean living, pretty much. It’s fun and there’s an immediacy to it because every night the audience is different so that changes the show and makes it much more fun for me and I think for the audience too.”
Q: How much of the show is improvised?
A: “Part of the way that it can look extemporaneous is if I’m actually talking directly to someone in the audience. Otherwise I’m performing to the abstract ‘you’ and that wouldn’t keep it alive as much.”
Q: You offer a peek into your eclectic family tree in a segment dubbed “Hollywood Inbreeding 101.” What was it like having Elizabeth Taylor as a step-mom?
A: “I remember meeting her once at the Beverly Hills Hotel when I was four, and I was very jealous of her kids, Liza, Michael and Christopher...She’s a very lovely woman and we get along great and have for years. I gave her an award once where I thanked her for getting my father out of the house. So we’ve been steeped in irony for years.”
Q: You’ve been a role model for people facing a variety of challenges: mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction. How does it feel to know you’ve had a positive influence?
A: “If you can move through it and keep going, that’s half the battle. Having a perspective and getting an angle on it that can keep it funny and take the danger out of it is empowering. I feel more comfortable being a role model for those suffering with mental illness. There are people that participate in their sobriety more than I do, and that’s very impressive to me.”
Q: You often make light of the challenges you face. What advice do you have for those facing similar issues?
A: “Talk about it with other people who have similar problems. Find your community and get to laughing about it as soon as you can. For me, humor is the answer.”
Q: Few people can claim to have a shampoo, a Pez dispenser and a stamp named after them, let alone a life-sized Princess Leia sex doll. How do you deal with being a pop culture icon?
A: “It’s just kind of a weird thing. It’s funny. It also has a reassuring, flattering quality. Otherwise if I thought of myself as some incredibly serious artist this would be in my way. What are they going to come up with next? Last night someone informed me that I am a slot machine. So you just kind of roll with it.”
Q: What can Carrie Fisher fans expect next?
A: “I’m adapting my last novel, ‘The Best Awful’. I also have another script idea and book I am finishing, ‘Shockaholic’. My mother wants to do a reality show. Trust me, we’re not doing it. She tells me, ‘Everyone’s doing it, dear.’ But we’re not doing it. My mother and I live next door to each other and I quip, ‘It could be ‘Grey Gardens’ in Technicolor.”
Editing by Jill Serjeant and Bob Tourtellotte