The talk shifts to Leia's romance with Han Solo in Empire, and Carrie slyly speculates that "if she had her wits about her, she would have fallen for the big, strong Wookie. She's not that experienced, but because she's a princess, she would have some kind of problem with whoever she dated. Like, 'She can't marry out of her solar system' or something."
Her notion of an X-rated sequel to Empire makes her howl with laughter.
"Nude scenes with the robots!" she envisions. "They could do anything. And Darth Vader having an affair, making the princess do awful, kinky things. Then afterward, you could shoot a scene where you see her sleeping contently and have him lying there, smoking a cigarette."
Gazing around her apartment, crammed with antique toys, dolls and the whimsical knickknacks one might expect to find in a little girl's bedroom, I realize there are few Star Wars souvenirs.
"They sent me everything at first, as if I had some child lurking about, but I gave most of it away. On Halloween, I had no candy so I gave two children in the building something, and then the whole building descended on me, and I gave a lot of stuff away.
"You know," she says in a mock stage whisper, "they send me Star Wars sheets. I just gave the last ones away to some of the Saturday Night Live writers. They called me back and said, 'You don't have them for double beds, do you?'
"The merchandising, it's very funny. Harrison used to get so upset: 'Mark gets to be a puzzle, why don't I?!' Those kinds of arguments. And we'll go, 'Wait a minute! Why don't I get to be on the pencil box for chrissake! I mean, if I'm gonna be in this and I'm gonna end up being two sizes of dolls, and a belt, and a cookie, and a hat, then why don't I get to be on an eraser, too?'
"I," Fisher boasts, "was on a Princess Leia eraser."
"Do the kids who buy these erasers come up to you in supermarkets," I wonder, "and ask you about the Millennium Falcon or Jawas or . . . ?"
"No! They come to my home. I swear to you! I sometimes find them in my home, and there are a lot of little girls. One girl named Yolanda sat here and waited for me. That's when I started locking my door. One night – this is great – some real strange guy with crossed eyes came up here and said he had bought my address for twenty dollars. Peter Aykroyd [Dan's brother] was here and chased him down the block.
"Weird," she says with a shudder. "You know, I remember falling asleep one day on the set and dreaming about half-robots, half-people. You're hanging around the set for three or four months and you're going to lunch with midgets and giants every day; eventually it permeates the brain. So I had these violent nightmares, dreams where you keep trying to impose your reality and you can't. It gets you crazy."
Fisher has since awakened to another, equally unsettling fact: her involvement in these films has not made her more in demand in Hollywood.
"Not at all." She nods with an even smile. "It hasn't translated into jobs, into other work. It's not an actor's performance. You have fun doing it to a degree, but I'm famous in this weird way because I'm this children's cartoon character.
"Balls, people recognize me more from Saturday Night Live! I mean, people know who I am, but nothing can be bigger than this movie no matter what happens. When we all kick off, we will be the princess and Luke and Han."
"How does that make you feel?" I ask.
Her smile vanishes and the color drains from her face.
George tells me that the wisest thing I could tell anyone is that I'm retired," says Mark Hamill, 28, only half joking as he nibbles nachos in a sunlit Malibu eatery called Alice's Restaurant. "Then I would have the best of both worlds. There's no pressure to put out a product, and if you do get a part, you can say, 'The role was so good it lured me out of retirement.'
"Who knows," he says in exasperation, "I think he's probably right."
Hamill views his contribution to Lucas' work-in-progress as "the classic thankless role. I'm the straight man, the earnest storyteller.
"You know," he offers with a hard swallow, "thirty years ago, the studios would have built our careers. We're all freelancers now. I'm finally looking like a grown-up, after all these years. I always got the 'Hey, dad, can I borrow the keys to the car tonight?' parts. That's why I'm waiting. I really have a feeling Empire is going to help me.
"I've got one of the best collections of Star Wars memorabilia," he suddenly volunteers, "but it's all put away because I'm a serious collector."
"How valuable to sci-fi buffs is the Luke Skywalker doll?" I ask.
"I've been marked down in price," he moans. "But it doesn't look anything like me, anyway. My wife and I went into a Toys 'R Us store awhile back, and they had all these kids' costumes. They'd made a bunch of Star Wars ones; four of 'em, and I was one.
"They had sold out Darth Vader, Chewbacca and C-3PO," he murmurs, "and I was the only one available. There were just boxes and boxes of me."
The son of an itinerant navy captain, Hamill grew up in Virginia and Japan, and became absorbed in acting while in high school. Although he has had extensive TV experience, including a short-lived series with Gary Busey called The Texas Wheelers, he confesses that "one of the best things I think I ever did was Snoopy in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown. I was embarrassed to mention it before, because it was in high school in Japan."
Hamill's anxiety about landing choice roles was tragically accelerated when his BMW ran off the freeway in 1977. Star Wars had not yet been released, and his face was sufficiently ravaged that he wondered whether he would be able to retain any part of his angular good looks, let alone fulfill the remainder of his three-picture deal with Lucas. That mental anguish was only intensified when the film proved to be an international smash.
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