Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher's one-woman show-turned-book-turned–one-woman show, premieres as a feature-length concert film this week on HBO. The Weekly talked to the actress-memoirist about crafting confessionals as entertainment, and why she's less than thrilled to be the object of sexual fantasies of Star Wars fans.
L.A. WEEKLY: You have so many stories, your work could be thought of as an ongoing memoir, to which you're adding and subtracting indefinitely.
CARRIE FISHER: Yeah. It's kind of like a morphing … [pauses, then makes highly exaggerated purging noise]. I'm trying — not trying. I am writing another book, and it's going through stories and seeing which one would … well, I don't want to upset anyone, so you have to watch out for that.
So do you wait until people are dead to tell the really good stories?
Unless I want to kill them, yeah. There's some I'll never tell. No amount of time will get some [people] comfortable on some of the stories. I have pounds of acid stories. Unfortunately, they involve other people. I don't think they would cause great joy in the land. Usually the stuff I talk about is already out. And once it's out, then it's public domain.
I was surprised that one of my favorite stories from the book Wishful Drinking didn't make it into the HBO special: the one about Cary Grant and LSD.
Actually, the book was based on the [one-woman] show, and I expanded it — there was not enough material there for a book, so I added stuff like Cary Grant — I don't think that was ever really in the show, maybe for a little while in L.A. It's a long story. It just ended up being what would work in terms of flow. Not making the drug section break the back of the movie section, [or] the mental illness section. It had to be balanced.
Have your rules about what to disclose, and what stories to tell, changed over the years?
No! Don't want to upset people. You can't imagine what I leave out of this shit! This is like the PG version. There are details that would not be appropriate, that actually don't relate to anyone but me — I could actually probably do a whole act on mental illness and the ins and outs of shock treatment and psychotic breaks and what-have-you. But I don't know that that is an entertainment. That is rubber-necking.
Would you ever do anything that was confessional that didn't also make fun of the dark stuff?
I love the blend. The real alchemy is to take something such as waking up with a dead friend, losing your mind, overdosing … for me I would rather try to make those things funny, and understandable, and relatable. Otherwise, we're just going to sit around and you're going to circle the drain with me. Not that that's a sport that Americans don't enjoy.
One thing that made the cut is some very funny stuff about how the Slave Leia metal bikini from The Return of the Jedi made you a sex symbol.
That's only determinable way after the fact, I think. There's no experience that tells you, “Oh, I'm a sex symbol.” Were people coming up to me and jacking off to me in the streets? No. All of the attention I ever got was, in a way, freakish. Generally the reaction I would get was, “Did you know it would be that big of a hit?” Every so often someone would come up to me and say, “I thought about you every day from when I was 12 to 22.” But that's after the fact — they didn't come up at the time and say, “I'm thinking about you every day,” i.e., “In between watching the movies and putting together these spaceship models that I have, I retire to the bathroom and jack off to you.” I wasn't aware of it at the time, and I'm very glad I wasn't.
Wishful Drinking premieres on Mon., Dec. 12, at 9 p.m. on HBO.