In 1977, when Carrie Fisher was just 19, 5-foot-1, and 105 pounds, she was asked to lose weight to play Princess Leia in “Star Wars.” If not forgivable, this was, perhaps, to be expected. It was Hollywood — and it was a long time ago.
When Fisher was asked to reprise her role in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” — a job she took in 2013, in her mid-50s — she might have expected a different outcome. Decades had gone by. A conversation about body image in entertainment was flowering. And, in any case, she was an icon — and not just for her turn in the gold bikini. Who else was going to play Luke Skywalker’s sister and Han Solo’s lady — not to mention a possessor of Jedi powers in her own right?
Yet, she was asked to lose 35 pounds.
“They don’t want to hire all of me – only about three-quarters!” Fisher told Good Housekeeping, which reported the number in its January 2016 cover story, writing Fisher “was pressured” to lose the 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.”
The announcement was a surprise to anyone who just heard director J.J. Abrams — who inherited the franchise from George Lucas — talk-up the new film as female-friendly. Was someone involved in this movie excluding larger sizes — and, if so, who? (Fisher did not identify the culprit.) Leia is a general in the new film — not a mere princess. Need generals be svelte?
“Star Wars was always a boys’ thing, and a movie that dads could take their sons to,” Abrams told “Good Morning America” on Monday. “And although that is still very much the case, I was really hoping this could be a movie that mothers could take their daughters to as well.” (Abrams was not immediately available for comment.)
Fisher, meanwhile, attacked the movie industry’s obsession with bodies.
“We treat beauty like an accomplishment and that is insane,” she said. “Everyone in L.A. 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 — the troubled child of screen stars Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher who has written about her drug use, depression and electroshock treatments — was praised not many years ago for her unorthodox approach to a difficult role: Jenny Craig spokesperson.
“Carrie Fisher is not your typical weight loss spokesperson: she’s unwilling, acerbic, self-deprecating,” the Huffington Post wrote in 2011. “But her inclination toward sarcasm — rather than spandex — makes the new face of Jenny Craig something of a breath of fresh air.”
“It was good that I had to be accountable because I’m a big, childish, 54-year-old cheat,” the actress and author told the Huffington Post. “I mean, everything I seem to start I end up abusing and have to stop it. There’s not much left, though.”