In the four decades since Star Wars premiered, Carrie Fisher has written two memoirs, a semi-autobiographical novel and starred in a one-woman play about her life. It seemed like there couldn’t possibly be a kernel of personal information she hasn’t shared – but it turns out she was saving a big one for her new book The Princess Diarist, in which she reveals she had an affair with Harrison Ford while filming the original Star Wars. When word leaked out, some outlets reported she wrote that Han Solo was bad in bed, which is apparently completely untrue. “I just Tweeted that I don’t say how anybody is in any furniture,” she says after phoning up Rolling Stone. “I don’t understand how people can write that! Oh God, now I’ve unleashed Twitter and I don’t know how to undo it. Now re-tweetings has taken over my phone!” Somehow through the chaos, she managed to talk to us about the book and the many lessons she’s learned during her incredible life.
What’s the best and worst parts of success?
The best part is money, traveling and the people you meet. The worst part is, again, money, travel and the people you meet. That’s something Dorothy Parker would say. But I’ll answer it straight: The worst part is being criticized. Things are taken out of context. Now, with the Internet, you’re your own worst enemy. I’m not someone that can sort of just not look.
You’re lucky that your first brush with fame came before Twitter and TMZ.
I’m so happy about that. Even though I was never private, I always controlled what was out there. It never felt like anything was private, but compared to now I had a lot more secrets.
What are the important rules you live by?
Be kind. Don’t hurt other people. It’s all the sort of Christian ethics stuff I thought was bullshit when I was a kid. No, it turns out it’s not bullshit. Tell the truth, be kind, all that corny stuff.
What’s the best advice you ever got?
You don’t have to always be comfortable. You don’t have to like everything you do. That was shocking to me. I thought I had to like everything I did. When I heard that, it was such a relief.
Where did you learn that?
A.A. They would say things like, “You don’t have to like it. You just have to go.” I thought that was amazing. “Really? I can not like this? Well, great. I don’t like it.” That took my back to … I hate the word “Christian,” but again, that sort of ethic.
You’re from Beverly Hills. What’s the most Beverly Hills thing about you?
I have a nice car. I drive a Tesla. I’m contemporary Beverly Hills. I shop a lot. It’s a lifelong thing. I like to think of myself as a collector of things, but it’s more compulsive than that. So it’s shopping. And collagen.
What’s the most indulgent purchase you’ve ever made?
Buying a purse at Fendi when you could feed a lot of people in Africa for the same amount of money.
What was your favorite book as a child and what does it say about you?
I was a freaky kid. I loved language and I would read all these books. I liked Truman Capote and I was obsessed with Dorothy Parker. I wanted to be her. I was just in love with words and they saved my from a lot of stuff. Books were my first drug. They took me away from everything and I would just consume them.
How do you relax?
Badly. I watch old movies, but I don’t actually breathe a sigh of relief and relax a lot. I’m too high-strung and agitated. I really have to concentrate to relax. I literally have to do things like watch my breathing and tell myself what I’m looking at.
“I told [Harrison] I found the diaries and that I was gonna publish them. He just said, ‘Lawyer.’ I guess he didn’t loathe anything. I know the whole thing embarrasses him.”
What music still moves you the most?
It’s all stuff from my youth, like Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and Paul Simon.
You were married to Paul Simon. Are you able to enjoy his music and dissociate it from your personal relationship with him?
Absolutely, though I do like the songs he wrote about our relationship. Even when he’s insulting me, I like it very much. If you’re gonna be insulted, that’s the way to go. “Graceland” has part of us in it.
What’s the most important lesson you got out of that marriage?
I’m not good at relationships. I’m not cooperative enough. I couldn’t give him the peace that he needed. Also, it’s interesting when you’re with another celebrity. The issue of celebrity becomes neutralized and you can get onto your bigger problems. We both had very interesting fights. It’s all a shame, because he and I were very good together in the ways that we were good. But like I said, I don’t supply someone with a really peaceful home.
Do you ever speak with him?
No, I don’t talk to him now. That was difficult for us. I miss him, but I have the best of him in his music. Not exclusively, though I was a fan of his before I was a wife of his.
What advice do you wish someone had given you at age 19?
It was advice I couldn’t take: Don’t get loaded your whole fucking life. And I did get loaded my whole fucking life. You have to learn, and unfortunately it takes a lot of lessons for some of us to get it right.
Are there any upsides to doing drugs?
Yes. Absolutely. I don’t think I was ever suicidal, and that’s probably because of drugs. I did have … do have this mood disorder, so it probably saves me from the most intense feelings from that. I was able to mute that stuff. And I loved LSD. That was fantastic.
Are you ever tempted to take LSD these days?
Absolutely. I would like to do that stuff again, but it might be a little intense at my age. It was intense not at my age.
Describe your best trip.
It was probably in the desert. I had a lot of good ones. I had one where I was with Paul and my coat caught fire. We laughed at the flames. I had a lot of fun on acid and mushrooms and all that stuff. It was a part of my life when I was very young. I got into a lot of trouble because of it. Not the LSD, though. The other drugs.
Are there any drugs you wish you’d never touched?
The stronger of the opiate class. I would say heroin. I snorted that. I never did it the full-on way, which is basically what you do when you’re trying to kill yourself.
That was never your goal, right?
No, never. My line about that in Postcards [From the Edge] is that I was very offended someone would think I was suicidal. They said, “Well, your behavior is suicidal.” And I said, “Well, my behavior might be, but I’m not.” I literally thought that way.
How did you find the strength to pick yourself up and recover from so many of your difficult moments?
Well, what are the choices? The choices are dying, so you just have to get to the other side of it. I was always able to trust there was one. And I don’t know why I thought that.
How different do you think your life would have turned out had you never got cast in Star Wars?
Utterly. It’s sort of the engine that pushed everything else through. I would have been a writer, though. I didn’t really mean to be an actress. But if your second movie is Star Wars, you’re done. You’re gonna be pursuing that because otherwise it’ll pursue you.
Are there ever moments when you want to pull a Shatner and just yell at the fans, “Get over it! They’re just movies!”
I don’t. Over the years I’ve considered that that they’re not just movies. It’s sort of this weird lifestyle; I’ve watched families raise their kids with it. It’s adorable and freaky at the same time.
Some actors resent the big role that made them famous. You’ve never seemed to mind Princess Leia.
I’ve totally embraced it. I like Princess Leia. I like how she was feisty. I like how she killed Jabba the Hutt. That’s my favorite thing she did.
“I had one [LSD trip] where I was with Paul [Simon] and my coat caught fire. We laughed at the flames. I had a lot of fun on acid and mushrooms and all that stuff.”
But you said you were nervous when Episode VII began filming.
Totally. I feel nervous as an actor anyway because you have to keep up with some sort of standard, whatever that was. And you don’t want to fuck it up at this point.
Your new book is based on diaries you wrote while filming the first Star Wars movie. You admit to an affair with Harrison Ford on the set. Did you warn him that was going to be in the book?|
Yeah. I told him I found the diaries, which I had not seen since I’d written them and that I was gonna publish them. He just said, “Lawyer.” I told him he could take out anything he didn’t like. I sent it to him, but he never commented. I guess he didn’t loathe anything. I know the whole thing embarrasses him. That’s what it’s for, to embarrass all of us again.
Did you partially do this now because Han Solo is dead and you knew you wouldn’t have to see him on the set of the next one?
No. I would like to hear what he thought of it. He knew that I was kind of infatuated with him at the time. But what he thought, I don’t know. We weren’t communicating a lot.
Do you feel a big sense of relief now that the secret is finally out?
No. It’s just some big overgrown cat out a bag that could have stayed closed, I suppose. But people have been speculating about it, though it was not something we ever discussed. It was just this elephant in the room. And to this day I feel nervous around him.
He just doesn’t engender relaxation. Maybe it’s just me.
Does any part of you wish the affair had been with Mark Hamill?
NO! No. But I suppose I would have been able to laugh about it with him. That’s not something I can do with Harrison, though “lawyer” was pretty funny. At least it acknowledged that it existed.
Are all your secrets now out?
No. There’s some that will never come out.
You’ve been undergoing shock therapy for many years now. What are the biggest misconceptions about that?
Oh, everything … that you have convulsions. You get put to sleep when they do it. It’s very easy and very effective. And it’s not used as punishment by nurses in a mental hospital when you’re bad, which is how its depicted in literally every movie, both contemporary and past.
How has it changed your life?
At the time I was depressed, and it ended the depression. I couldn’t fix it. Medication couldn’t fix it. Therapy couldn’t fix it. That did.
Are you happier now than you’ve ever been?
Yep. Well, I’m not happy about being older, except what are the options? But I’ve learned a lot. I trust myself. I trust my instincts. I know what I’m gonna do, what I can do, what I can’t do. I’ve been through a lot, and I could go through more, but I hope I don’t have to. But if I did, I’d be able to do it. I’m not going to enjoy dying, but there’s not much prep for that.
Do you fear death?
No. I fear dying. Anything with pain associated with it, I don’t like. I’ve been there for a couple of people when they were dying; it didn’t look like fun. But if I was gonna do it, I’d want someone like me around. And I will be there!
Watch ‘Star Wars’ actor Peter Mayhew reflect on Carrie Fisher.