According to veteran film actress and screenwriter Carrie Fisher, Star Wars film execs pressured her to lose weight – about 35 pounds in all – if she was going to reprise her role in the new film series.
“They don’t want to hire all of me – only about three-quarters!” Veteran film actress and screenwriter Carrie Fisher told Good Housekeeping U.K.
The Star Wars actress has been an outspoken critic of Hollywood culture over the years, particularly the film industry’s treatment of women, and people with mental illnesses. At 59-years-old, Fisher has had an impressive career, headlining the original Star Wars trilogy when she was only 19. She’s since moved on to work largely behind the camera as a screenwriter.
“My problem is they talk to me like an actress, but I hear them like a writer,” she told People Magazine, “We treat beauty like an accomplishment and that is insane. Everyone in LA says, ‘oh you look good,’ and you listen for them to say you’ve lost weight — nobody ever says asks how you’re doing.”
After her work on Star Wars in 1977, Fisher experienced several years of hard-living. She battled addiction, and her bipolar disorder. Those experiences have made her an advocate for mental health, and she’s been open about her bipolar disorder, telling reporters that she’s proud of being the “poster child” for bipolar disorder. She was delighted to be asked back for the new Star Wars films, but less excited about Star Wars execs asking her to lose weight.
“Nothing changes, it’s an appearance-driven thing. I’m in a business where the only thing that matters is weight and appearance. That is so messed up. They might as well say get younger, because that’s how easy it is,” Fisher told People.
She’s not surprised, she says, that very little has changed since the last time she took on the role of Princess Leia in Star Wars: A New Hope — being asked to lose weight is just part of the job. She did as she was asked, and dropped about 35 pounds, but she wasn’t happy about it.
“When I do lose the weight, I don’t like that it makes me feel good about myself. It’s not who I am,” she said, “[But] I did it the same way everybody has to — don’t eat and exercise more!”
The new Star Wars films promise to be a much more inclusive story, with male and female heroes, and a more racially diverse cast than the original films, even the prequel trilogy. With that in mind, Fisher says she used her experience as the lead actress of the original Star Wars films to give advice to newcomer Daisy Ridley, warning her not to become a sex symbol like she was.
“You should fight for your outfit,” she reportedly told Ridley, “Don’t be a slave like I was.”
Director J.J. Abrams told People Magazine that he hopes the film will be more inclusive, that both boys and girls will “see themselves” in it.
“Star Wars was always a boys thing, and a movie that dads took their sons to,” Abrams told Good Morning America, “And though that’s still very much the case, I was really hoping this could be a movie that mothers take their daughters to, as well.”
The 49-year-old director has said he hopes kids will see the new Star Wars films and see that they’re “capable of doing things they could never imagine possible.”
“What I hope more than anything is that it’s something that tells [the audience] that life is full of sort of unlimited possibilities, that they feel better when they leave than when they got there,” Abrams said.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens December 18, 2015.
[Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney]