'My first intoxicant': Carrie Fisher on writing, acting and the whole Princess Leia thing

You can call her Princess Leia. Carrie Fisher — beloved by fans for her recurring role in the Star Wars franchise — travelled from galaxies far, far, away to headline the annual Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo this past weekend.

'I got to be the only girl in an all boy fantasy,' Carrie Fisher tells CBC in wide-ranging interview

Carrie Fisher was in Edmonton for the annual science fiction convention. (Lucasfilm/Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar)

You can call her Princess Leia.

Carrie Fisher — beloved by fans for her recurring role in the Star Wars franchise — travelled from galaxies far, far, away to headline the annual Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo this past weekend.

Fisher appeared in the first Star Wars movie in 1977, then in The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and Return of the Jedi in 1983. Last year, she was back in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Fisher's other film credits include roles in The Blues Brothers and When Harry Met Sally.

The daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actor Debbie Reynolds, she is also known for her semi-autobiographical novels including Postcards from the Edge.

But despite her wide and varied career, to science fiction fans she will always be Princess Leia.

In an interview with CBC Radio Active host Portia Clark, the actress made it clear she has no problem being typecast as the galactic heroine.

What is your new advice column Advice from the Dark Side about? And who is it for?

It's for younger people, for younger girls. One woman asked me if she should leave her husband. She found out he'd been with prostitutes for many years, but they had a good marriage, and as far as she knew he hadn't lied about too much else. And so she was having trouble deciding what to do. I said she shouldn't leave. How about that?

Why did you tell her to stay? 

I always give advice with the caveat. Don't listen to me, I'm not in a relationship myself.

He wasn't having a love affair. They have children together, they have many years together and they had a really good partnership. So they should go to therapy together. He should buy her a lot of nice gifts.

I just don't think that's an easy split. It's for better or for worse, and well, that's worse. Clearly, she can always leave him, but if he's remorseful enough and tries hard, she can just punish him now for the rest of his life.

You've also written novels. How did you get into writing?

I didn't get into writing. I've just always written. It was an outlet for me. I loved reading, so I fell in love with words very early on. And I used to rip through books and underline all the words I didn't know and all the sentences I adored. I was just a very big reader. That was my first intoxicant. It was a great escape.

They say 'write what you know,' and you did in The Best Awful. What was that experience like, bringing that level of honesty about your own personal life to the public?

All my life, generally, anything that's been a challenge for me has never been a secret. I went into rehab when I was 28 years old, and then I was diagnosed as being bipolar.

Because I grew up in a public family, I never really had a private life.  And so if those issues are going to be public, I would rather them to be public the way I've experienced them rather than someone else assuming things about me. It's freeing to do it. Shame is not something I aspire to.

And actually it's been really nice, because a lot of people are bipolar. So I get a lot of people coming up to me and thanking me for that. Ever so often I think, 'Oh god, why did I go and tell everyone all that?' But rarely, absolutely rarely.

You've done so much with your career, but most people still know you as Princess Leia. What is it like to be remembered that way?

If it was a bad thing, I would have a bad life. It's actually great. Those movies are great. I got to be the only girl in an all boy fantasy, and it's a great role for women. She's a very proactive character and gets the job done. So if you're going to get typecast as something, that might as well be it for me.

And I'm not really one of those actresses like Meryl Streep. Those actresses travel outside themselves and play characters. And I'm more of an archaeologist. I play what I am. I dig what I can. It's a character that's not too far from myself, except I don't have any laser guns.

What's next for you?

I've written another book and it's coming out in November. It's called the Princess Diarist, so it's the first book I've ever written about Star Wars. I found the diaries that I kept from the first movie when I was 19 years old.

What leaps out at you from reading those old diaries?

I was a very insecure kid, very emotional. And I had a crush on one of my co-stars.

Which co-star did you have a crush on?

You'll see. You'll see.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity