NEW YORK (Reuters) - Carrie Fisher has become so adept at turning her life’s tragedies into humor it is a little surprising to discover she is hurt by tabloid gossip.
The big screen’s Princess Leia from “Star Wars” is now a spokeswoman for the weight-loss company Jenny Craig, turning dieting into her latest public humiliation at age 54. TV ads began appearing this week.
Through her writing, interviews and one-woman stage show “Wishful Drinking,” she has previously laid bare addictions to drugs and alcohol, her stormy romances with other show business giants and growing up as the daughter of movie star Debbie Reynolds and the crooner Eddie Fisher, who died last year.
The humor with which she confronts her foibles does not come easy when others poke fun.
“‘Carrie Fisher’s tragic life.’ That was one that hurt,” she told Reuters in an interview, quoting a headline. “‘Hey, how about Carrie Fisher? She used to be so hot. Now she looks like Elton John.’ That hurt.
“Instead of saying I looked like Elton John, say I looked like Bernie Taupin,” she said, referring to the singer’s thinner musical collaborator. “I do not look like Jabba the Hutt.”
The secret, she said, was time, that healer of emotional wounds that has enabled her to talk, for example, about the death of her gay friend Republican political operative R. Gregory Stevens, who died in her bed in 2005.
“I have a sense of humor about everything. I woke up with somebody who was dead. I’ve learned to have a sense of humor, but it doesn’t come immediately. It comes in the long run, with perspective,” Fisher said.
Fisher, who stands 5-foot-1, gained weight while traveling with her one-woman show in recent years, topping out at 180 pounds (82 kg) before deciding to go on Jenny Craig. When the company heard about it, it offered to make her the next celebrity spokeswoman as it did with actresses Kirstie Alley and Valerie Bertinelli.
“I’ve only been fat for three and a half years,” said Fisher, whose voice has lowered since her Princess Leia days.
She has lost 15 pounds (7 kg) since December, half way to her announced goal of losing 30 pounds (14 kg), which would put her at 150 (68 kg).
She weighed about 100 pounds (45 kg) when she wore that iconic metallic gold bikini and slew Jabba the Hutt, the massive, slug-like alien in “Return of the Jedi.”
“I loved killing him,” she said.
Even so, Fisher is hypersensitive about her weight. She grew agitated when told, erroneously, that a magazine had reported her weight as even higher.
She is also terrified of getting on a scale.
“I’ve jumped out of a plane. I’ve walked over coals, rappelled down a mountain. And I’m afraid of scales,” Fisher said.
“For me to tell you how much I weigh, it’s still delicate for me.”
But she believes in taking control of the narrative.
“What are we pretending not to know? I’m not overweight? I am overweight. I’d rather claim it. Then it has less power over you,” she said. “This way you don’t have anything on me. Better to have the good news out there with it.”
Reporting by Daniel Trotta; editing by Patricia Reaney