Fisher, for Compliments
By Andrew C. Stone
Born into the glamour, decadence and warped self-perceptions of Hollywood royalty, Carrie Fisher was never set up—or expected—to have a “normal” life. While “normal” is impossible to defi ne, it’s clear that Fisher’s life has been anything but ordinary—famous parents (Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds) whose scandals made headlines, showbiz success that started when she was young and brought her icon status, a much-confessed history of drug and alcohol abuse, a writing career that spans best-selling books and top box offi ce scripts and a disarming honesty that imbues her work with side-splitting comedy and jarring moments of pathos. “I don’t like having elephants in the room,” Fisher says. “If you can declare something, you own it, and then it doesn’t have power over you.”
Now Fisher brings her first memoir, Wishful Drinking, to life on the Broadway stage in a onewoman show, offering wickedly clever tales of her folks, celebrity glory and mortifi cation, snapshots of her raucous romances with famous men and observations about life that are distinctly her own. “Writing is work, but sometimes a really good line occurs to you and it doesn’t even feel like it’s yours,” she says. “It’s like being struck by friendly lightning.”
Not one to shy away from personal fare, in Wishful Drinking she discusses her lifelong struggle with bipolar disorder and her decision to undergo ECT (electroconvulsive therapy). “I’d gotten into a rough depression,” she says. “I knew nothing about [ECT], but here’s the thing: It’s really effective. Crazy effective. This last year is the most successful I’ve had. I wrote a book, I did a show, got nominated for an Emmy. They put these little teeny things on you that look like a piece of film, they put you to sleep for 10 minutes, then you wake up and there’s no recovery.” It’s this forthright quality that makes Fisher’s writing addictive and performance riveting. “I try not to say anything that would upset anyone,” she insists. “If I’ve put you in the book I [first] show you what I’ve written about you and you have the choice to take it out.”
Ironically, her one-woman Roundabout Theatre Company production of Wishful Drinking takes place at Studio 54, her haunt of choice during her drug days. “I’m only going to do the show in a place where I’ve been incredibly loaded,” she declares. And with that, she’s come full circle.
NEW YORK FAVORITE
Broadway Show: Next to Normal, which she introduced at the Tonys. “It’s always the best, playing the mentally ill person."
PHOTOGRAPH BY JEFF VESPA; HAIR AND MAKEUP BY JEFFREY PAUL FOR EXCLUSIVE ARTISTS /JOUER AND WEN