Actress Carrie Fisher, who’s most famously known for her role as Princess (and later General) Leia, died December 27 from complications of a heart attack. Fisher, who was the daughter of pop singer Eddie Fisher and starlet Debbie Reynolds, grew up in the spotlight but launched to fame as the double-bun-wearing leader of the Rebel Alliance in a galaxy far, far away.
When Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope was released in 1977, Fisher became an international movie star overnight. She went on to reprise her role in three more Star Wars installments, The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, Return of the Jedi in 1983, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015.
Fisher’s movie star success isn’t the only thing that captivated fans from around the world, however; rather, it was her wit, feminist wisdom, and the transparency of her personal life. One of her biggest struggles was her extensive drug use, both in the spotlight and out.
Smoking pot by age 13 and doing LSD at 21, Fisher was soon becoming everything her squeaky-clean mother wasn’t. Using drugs to cope with her bipolar disorder, Fisher soon became addicted to cocaine. She suffered from a near-fatal drug overdose in 1985, and checked into a 30-day rehab center in Los Angeles. While there she wrote a semi-autobiographcal novel, Postcards From the Edge, which later became a movie starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine. Both book and movie presented a raw, undocumented look into the everyday life of a young woman suffering from demons in the public eye.
Fisher’s transparency didn’t end there. Most recently, Fisher left movies behind and turned to Broadway. Her one-woman show Wishful Drinking poked fun at her sordid past, positing that her drug habits most likely developed she was raised by two pretty famous household names. In her show, she explained “I’m a product of Hollywood inbreeding. When two celebrities mate, something like me is the result.”
Despite an increasing societal openness about drug abuse and the power of rehab, drug use and overdose fatalities are rising across the nation. Back in 2014, more than 47,000 people died due to fatal drug overdoses and in 2015 the number grew to 55,403.
One thing is for sure; even with all her troubles, the force was strong with Carrie Fisher.