Wide Awake: Chatting with Carrie Fisher
An enchanted night with Princess Leia

I was hurrying to get to the stage for my interview with Carrie Fisher in front of a sold-out crowd of 700 at the Katz JCC’s Festival of Arts, Books and Culture. I was moving fast and it was dark back stage, so I didn’t see Carrie’s beloved dog lying on the floor. You know where I’m going with this, right?

I had spent some time with Carrie and her pup, Gary, in the green room before we headed for the stage, so I knew how she adored him. That made me cringe all the more when I stepped on him…kicked him, however you want to describe what I did that made Gary leap up and make an incredibly high-pitched yelp. Carrie’s assistant said it was the loudest he’s ever heard the dog yelp. Great.

Carrie, who had been in her seat behind the closed curtain for a few minutes, jumped up and ran to hug Gary. I apologized. She was gracious. We went to our seats. The mishap was quickly forgotten, and she leaned in toward me. “Do you exercise?” she asked.

We were speaking in whispers before the curtain opened. She told me I was lucky because my waist was narrow so when I sat, I looked thin. I pointed to my hips. She referenced the Kardashians, as if that was a good thing.

She pointed to her breasts, saying she always wanted a reduction, which I already knew because she mentions that in her book. She said no matter how much weight she loses – having just shed 40 pounds – she never looks thin because of her too-large breasts. But she would never have the surgery, she said, not at this point in her life.

The curtain opened, the audience clapped and we started to chat.

Before that night, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Carrie Fisher is many things to many people. To every man I’ve met, she’s the iconic Princess Leia from “Star Wars.” (It’s actually a little weird how some men reacted when I mentioned her. Many adore her, referencing her pin-up poster they had on their bedroom wall.) To my mom, she’s Debbie Reynolds’ and Eddie Fisher’s daughter, and to my oldest daughter, she’s the woman who was on “30 Rock.”

I didn’t know what to expect, but after reading her two memoirs, I liked her. No one can beat her stories – of Michael Jackson, Senator Ted Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor and, of course, her parents. You know how sometimes you tell a story about your life and you say it was like something out of a movie? She can do that, but the people who are in all her stories are mega-Hollywood stars, like Cary Grant.

And yet, despite the excitement of her stories, there is a recurring theme throughout her book that was also present in the interview that night: she doesn’t think she’s beautiful. She says she has good reason to think that, because everyone knows her mom is beautiful, and she doesn’t look like her mom. After speaking about this in the green room, I asked her if anyone told her when she was a little girl that she was pretty. She looked at me for awhile and said, “No. Sometimes they told me I was cute.”

After the interview ended, Carrie took her place at a table – with Gary perched at her side – to sign books for the many fans waiting in line. Many had a story to share with her, and most requested a photo. They loved her, and little did she know – they also think she’s beautiful.

December 2012
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