Carrie Fisher during her 2016 panel at Wizard World Chicago. Photo by Kay Serna.
If you ever have a chance to attend a Carrie Fisher panel, I recommend it. I cannot promise that you will be as delighted, entertained, and moved as I was, but if you’re a fan of Carrie’s wit, there’s more than a good chance you will be.
As much as so many of us love Carrie for her portrayal of Princess/General Leia in the Star Wars movies, it was clear so many of the audience members at Wizard World Chicago loved her for many other parts of her life too. In addition to a variety of thoughts about the galaxy far, far away, we got to hear about Carrie Fisher the author, script doctor, mental health advocate, and mother. Above all, Carrie Fisher is one hell of a storyteller who knows her audience.
Once her faithful dog, Gary, had his introduction and Carrie entered to thunderous applause, the hour-long panel started it’s energetic sprint.
Moderators Ken Napzok and Andy Signore from Screen Junkies seemed about as in awe of this woman as the rest of us but still kept the panel flowing asking several of their own questions as well as facilitating the audience’s.
You can check out my Twitter feed for more of a chronological flow, but since a variety of topics were covered and revisited through the panel, here are highlights by topic:
Carrie has written several books with her latest, The Princess Diarist, set to come out this fall. She’ll be reading for the audiobook version because 1) she can and 2) she “doesn’t want anyone talking about her behind her back.”
She mentioned The Princess Diarist is based on journals she had forgotten she’d written while making Star Wars. Instead of a recount of her day, she said most entries were emotional. She also joked that once the book comes out we’ll know so much about her that we won’t be interested in her anymore.
When asked by the moderators if it was true she did some script doctoring work on the Star Wars prequels she shared that she talked to George Lucas about the scripts but Star Wars scripts are difficult to work on since they’re never allowed to really leave the room they’re kept in. So ultimately while she talked to him about them, she never officially worked on them. She did pay high compliments to George Lucas though, calling him a “genius”.
Carrie says she had a lot of fun making The Burbs. (If you haven’t seen it already, check it out. It’s a funny but also kind of creepy movie where her and Tom Hanks play a couple with a strange neighbor situation.) Tom Hanks was a good improvisation partner.
But she says the best person to improvise with was Robin Williams. (Fisher re-wrote the Tinkerbell part for the movie Hook, and according to a 2014 article from The Hollywood Reporter, she improvised with Williams to write some of the Tinkerbell and Peter interactions.)
On who has been her funniest co-star – it’s hard for her to choose. She said Harrison Ford isn’t funny though; he’s witty. Ever the clever observer, she noted funny usually has a bit of people-pleasing to it. And while she admits Harrison does please people, he doesn’t try to.
Carrie also had several stories about working on Blue Brothers – from Belushi’s drug use to the real cops on set and Aykroyd hanging out with the DA and allegedly getting objects from crime scenes.
For a question about who was the better kisser – Ford or Belushi, she yelled John because she thought everyone would find that funnier, but said in actuality screen kisses aren’t that great although John did wear mascara and lip gloss for their kiss so she felt he was really focused on it.
What’s Carrie Fisher most proud of?
1. Billie – She thinks her daughter turned out pretty fantastic, wishes she had graduated college like Billie did, and says she’s great on Scream Queens.
2. Wishful Drinking – being able to turn it into a show and doing some acting
3. Gary – Gary is on Instagram and has been better about keeping up with social media than she has.
She also shared that she’s very happy right now except for her mother being ill lately. It’s been hard on all of them.
When an audience member apologized for asking a “fandom question”, she told them “No one here needs to apologize for being here.” She enjoys events like this show and says if she’s ever not enjoying them then “it’s on her.”
Shipping: Carrie wasn’t sure what that was, but once it was explained talked about how she recently learned about Carrison but wasn’t sure if that was shipping since it’s from the past.
When a kid asked which Star Wars movie was her favorite to film she dramatically took off her glasses replying “the last one” (which seemed to imply Episode VIII).
She disclosed that whenever she’s asked about the new movies she keeps repeating “Am I revealing anything?” in her head.
She shared that on these newer Star Wars movies they have to be dressed by people in a room because if they dress themselves in their trailers drones will appear and take photos of them when they step out.
At one point Carrie talked about how Star Wars should have a shopping planet, a spa planet, and a waxing planet where the Force eliminates bikini waxing.
Watching the newer movies (it seemed she was talking about The Force Awakens here) made her cry. The mean things people said about her appearance were upsetting but she advised all the women in the audience that “vanity isn’t worth your time.”
She threw out a lot of great one-liners in regards to Kylo Ren. At one point she called the character Hitler and said that was probably going to prevent Leia from getting any dates. Later when asked which characters would be friends with the new dark side characters she started by saying Rey is very forgiving but then said, “No one would be friends with my son because he’s an asshole. Kids, you’re allowed to say asshole once and only about my son.” She had a running line that the kids in the audience shouldn’t swear and even censored herself once, which she promptly promised would never happen again.
She also would have liked Leia to do more in The Force Awakens. She joked that included punishing her son.
One of the moderators asked her if she noticed she hugged Rey before Chewie in The Force Awakens. She joked that she did but no one listens to her before saying that she likes to believe Leia sensed Rey was having a harder time with what happened and needed to be hugged first.
When a pregnant audience member told her she looks forward to showing her child all of Star Wars except the Holiday Special, Carrie said you’re supposed to use the Holiday Special as a punishment. She then broke into her song from it. It was beautiful because Carrie has a lovely singing voice.
“No, he’s not getting a funeral in the next movie.” – Carrie in regards to how she makes comments to be funny sometimes and then people think it’s real
Speaking of making comments to be funny – when asked to imagine what Leia might say to Luke when he comes back, she yelled out, “Where have you been, you idiot? On the spa planet? You don’t look like it!”
On Kenny Baker: “He’s a little guy with a giant heart.” She said he had the most difficult costume but so much energy and he really enjoyed being there. She also pointed out that if you’re a part of Star Wars in a way you get to live on forever.
A little girl shared that she loves that Princess Leia is so fierce and asked what made her that way. Fisher’s response was “neglect from your father”. In turn she asked the girl how her father was and when the girl said “good” she jokingly suggested the girl ask her father to neglect her more although that might make her angrier as an adult.
She shared the recent story of a little kid who shrunk back upon seeing her and said, “I don’t want to see Old Leia.” Fisher thinks Old Leia sounds like a perfume or a horse put out to pasture. She also joked that when she gets to use the Force she’ll make all women look 25 so they never have to deal with Old Leia. On a more serious note she indicated that men need to play a part in changing the way aging women are perceived.
When asked what other universe she’d like General Leia to go to, Carrie said this one. General Leia doesn’t have to worry about spoilers and she has no trepidation.
On what Leia merchandise freaks her out: The cross-eyed Leia figure and the General Leia panty shields.
“NO!” – her initial reaction to being asked if she’d like a Leia stand-alone movie like the Han one. But when the moderators asked her who she thought could play Leia her first answer was Billie. She took it back though because she said they don’t need to be “any more singed together than we already are.” She claimed there were a number of “little actresses” who could play her and upon catching her own turn of phrase, she expertly deflected by going on a joke tangent about spotting a tiny actress running across the stage
After making a joke about not telling Disney about the pancakes she ate that day, she clarified that Disney doesn’t actually hound her about her weight and that she’d like that story to go away. She said that she’s the only one who can make her doing anything in regards to that.
The very first audience question was in regards to what she thought about the representation of mental health in the media today. She said it still has a ways to go, noting that it’s tough because it’s something that’s often hard to see due to being internal. She also said ECT is not the way they portray it and she recommends it as a therapy.
The very last audience question was also part of this topic. This audience member wanted to know how Carrie thinks playing Leia has helped those with mental illness. Carrie briefly spoke on the topic before the audience member revealed that she was someone with mental illness who felt helped by Carrie and Leia. Like Carrie has Gary, this person also has a companion dog who helps her. The dog was wearing a Leia costume. And if it wasn’t all moving enough, Carrie invited her up on stage, hugged her, and said they were going to go on a double date with their dogs to fight mental illness.
Thank you to Wizard World for inviting Carrie and thank you to Carrie Fisher, Gary Fisher, Ken Napzok, and Andy Signore for a wonderful panel. Please do not use or re-post any of the photos in this article without my permission.
Kay is FANgirl's resident geek fashion expert and co-host of the Hyperspace Theories podcast. She reviews books for the site in addition to movies of several genres with a heart for storytelling and a mind that likes to analyze. Kay's been a guest on various podcasts sharing her love and knowledge of storytelling, film-making, fashion, and of course, Star Wars.
Most days are filled with her work as a creative services professional - designing websites & branding, photographing, voice acting, editing, and more. Kay spends the little bit of free time she has reading, costuming, and, of course, making pew pew noises. She would pick up more jobs and hobbies if she was a Time Lord.