The Stunning Transformation Of Carrie Fisher

Some girls grow up admiring Disney princesses like Ariel or Belle, while others grow up admiring Princess Leia from the Star Wars series. Regardless of which side you may have fallen on, I think it's pretty safe to say we are all mourning the loss of the actress behind the galaxy's favorite princess, Carrie Fisher.

The beloved Fisher suffered a heart attack on December 23, 2016 and passed away 4 days later on December 27, at the age of 60, shattering hearts everywhere. Her rise to fame and many transformations, though, will never be forgotten.

Born into stardom

Fisher was born October 21, 1956 to famous parents, singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds (best known for her role in Singin' in the Rain). As it would turn out, her father would leave Reynolds and his two children (Carrie and her younger brother, Todd) for close family friend and fellow actress Elizabeth Taylor.

In her autobiography, Fisher recollects the feeling of being the child to some of Hollywood's top stars at the time, "When I arrived I was virtually unattended. And I have been trying to make up for that fact ever since. My parents had this incredibly vital relationship with an audience, like muscle with blood. This was the main competition I had for my parents' attention, an audience."

Competing with her famous mother

This feeling of competition with her mother was the start of the life-long complicated relationship between Reynolds and Fisher. "I think it was when I was 10 that I realized with profound certainty that I would not be, and was in no way now, the beauty that my mother was. I was a clumsy-looking and intensely awkward, insecure girl," Fisher wrote in her memoir.

Her battle with addiction

Fisher was always very open and honest about her struggles, including those with drugs. In her autobiography, Wishful Drinking, she talks about starting to smoke pot at age 13. From there, she expanded into other drugs, including painkillers. "You know how they say that religion is the opiate of the masses? Well, I took masses of opiates religiously."

As she said in an interview with Larry King for CNN, "I didn't like illegal drugs, I liked legal drugs, so I liked medicine. I liked the philosophy of it, you're going to feel better when you take two or eight of these. And I always wanted to feel better."

The princess we all know and love

Fisher became a pop culture icon with her role as Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan in the blockbuster series, Star Wars, with the first movie released in 1977. Star Wars creator, George Lucas, said in a statement after Fisher's death, "She was our great and powerful princess — feisty, wise and full of hope in a role that was more difficult than most people might think."

In a 1983 interview with Rolling Stone, Fisher speaks of Leia, "She has no friends, no family; her planet was blown up in seconds — along with her hairdresser — so all she has is a cause. From the first film [Star Wars], she was just a soldier, front line and center. The only way they knew to make the character strong was to make her angry. In Return of the Jedi, she gets to be more feminine, more supportive, more affectionate. But let's not forget that these movies are basically boys' fantasies. So the other way they made her more female in this one was to have her take off her clothes."

Fisher knew she couldn't escape her role as Princess Leia, once saying "I am Princess Leia, no matter what. If I were trying to get a good table, I wouldn't say I wrote Postcards. Or, if I'm trying to get someone to take my check and I don't have ID, I wouldn't say, Have you seen Harry Met Sally? Princess Leia will be on my tombstone."

The secret love affair

In Fisher's most recent book, The Princess Diarist, she also revealed her secret love affair with co-star Harrison Ford while filming Star Wars: A New Hope. She was 19 at the time and Ford was 33, married, and had two children. She told People, "It was Han and Leia during the week, and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend." After 40 years of silence, Fisher said in an interview on the Today show, "I'm surprised at the reaction. I don't think it is that surprising." In her book, The Princess Diarist, Fisher included the written diaries. "I told him [Harrison] I found the journals and I was going to publish them," she said.

She was an advocate for mental health

Fisher was a huge advocate for mental health support as she often openly spoke about her battle with bipolar disorder, which she was diagnosed with at age 24, though she said in an interview with WedMD that she didn't actually accept her diagnosis until age 29. In her book, Wishful Drinking, Fisher says, "One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls...At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you're living with this illness and functioning at all, it's something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication."

Her marriage to Paul Simon

Fisher married well-known musician Paul Simon in 1983 and as she said in her book, Wishful Drinking, "We were together for more than 12 years (off and on) and we traveled a lot." They divorced less than a year later. According to Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon by Peter Ames Carlin, Carlin writes, "[Carrie's] depths were unimaginably deep, and Paul's were nothing to sneeze at either, so they clung to each other with a passion that could both soothe and abrade." Carlin continues on to write how Fisher described "feeling pinned beneath Paul's ever-spinning, ever-controlling brain; about the way he, like so many powerful men she knew, assumed his expertise and control over every situation." It was after this that they broke up for good.

Her time in rehab took a toll

Fisher's drug abuse hit a head when she had her first bout in rehab at 28. It was at this same time that she started distancing herself from her mother. In a joint interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Fisher said "I didn't want to be around her. I did not want to be Debbie Reynolds' daughter." "It was total estrangement. She didn't talk to me for probably 10 years... That was the most difficult time of all. Very painful. Very heart breaking," said Reynolds in that same interview.

The published author and screenwriter

Aside from seeing her face across movie screens for years, Fisher was also known for her work as a published author and screenwriter. While Fisher was always known for being pretty open and honest, she wrote in her memoir, Wishful Drinking, "I heard someone once say that we're only as sick as our secrets." Some of her other books include Postcards From the Edge, Shockaholic, and her most recent release which came out only a couple months before her death, The Princess Diarist. Fisher would eventually adapt her novel Postcards From the Edge into a screenplay, made into a film staring Meryl Streep in 1990.

Fisher's screenwriting worked also included fixing and polishing scripts from other writers into brilliant works. Some of the more notable films she worked on include Sister Act, Hook and The Wedding Singer. "I'm in Hook with George [Lucas] — we're extras, because I rewrote that. That was my first rewrite. We get pulled up in the air kissing. I forget what scene it is. Go look it up somewhere. It's under 'weirdness,'" she says in an interview.

More than a princess

Aside from her reoccurring role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars series, Fisher made appearances on the big screen in Austin Powers, The Blues Brothers, and When Harry Met Sally, just to name a few.

Fisher also showed up in our homes with various TV appearances on shows including, Saturday Night Live, Frasier, The Big Bang Theory, Sex and the City, as well as many others.

Raising a daughter to follow in her footsteps

Despite Fisher and Reynolds advising a career other than acting, Fisher's daughter, and only child, Billie Lourd, 24, chose to follow in her mother and grandmother's footsteps. Lourd is best known for her role in Scream Queens, but also appeared alongside her mother with a small role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Lieutenant Connix.

In an interview with Teen Vogue, Lourd says of her mother, "She told me to be true, and kind, and confident in yourself. She raised me to not think of men and women as different. She raised me without gender. It's kind of the reason she named me Billie. It's not about being a strong woman — it's about being a strong person. She once told me, 'I never sat you down with a credo. It was more about leading by example.'"

The revolutionary feminist

There is no doubt that Fisher was a feminist from a relatively early age, thanks in part to her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars series and the famous gold bikini from Return of the Jedi. "Even in space, there's a double standard," said Fisher in a 2016 interview with Stephen Colbert. In a joint interview with Interview magazine with Force Awakens co-star Daisy Ridley, Fisher says, "don't be a slave like I was ... You keep fighting against that slave outfit."

In her book Shokaholic, she says "what I didn't realize, back when I was this 25-year-old pinup for geeks... was that I had signed an invisible contract to stay looking the exact same way for the next 30 to 40 years. Well, clearly I've broken that contract."

"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. It's never 'How are you?' or 'You seem happy!"' Fisher said in an interview with Good Housekeeping UK.

While Princess Leia may no longer be present on this earth, she revolutionized how we view and respond to sexism and femininity in a way that extends to galaxies far-far-away.

Lifetime achievement

Fisher's openness around her struggles with mental health even helped her receive the Annual Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism from Harvard College in 2016. Upon accepting the award, she said, "I've never been ashamed of my mental illness; it never occurred to me. Many people thank me for talking about it, and mothers can tell their kids when they are upset with the diagnosis that Princess Leia is bipolar too."

Bringing the family back together

Fisher and Reynolds would work on their relationship, and ultimately come back together for a relationship that was closer than ever. As it would turn out, Reynolds would pass away the day after Fisher. In a statement after their death, Todd Fisher, Carrie's brother, said, "She simply said that she didn't get to see Carrie come back from London. She expressed how much she loved my sister. She then said she really wanted to be with Carrie. In those precise words, and within 15 minutes from that conversation, she faded out. Within 30 minutes, she technically was gone."

May the force be with her

Rest peacefully, dear princess. You have inspired women of all generations and backgrounds around the globe with your truly humbling, honest and stunning story. Your presence is missed.