Carrie Fisher, looking svelte and terrific on the red carpet this week at the New York premiere of “Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds,” told us she was surprised at all the attention her Tweets about Donald Trump have received.
She’s been slamming Trump in her Tweets regularly and when someone asked Fisher by tweet if she thought Trump’s sniffles during the second debate with Hillary Clinton was the result of cocaine use, Fisher tweeted, “I’m an expert & ABSOLUTELY.” Fisher’s struggles with drugs and her bi-polar condition are well known from her books and interviews.
“I didn’t know it burned up anything,” Fisher told me when I commented on how the Twitterverse lit up with her remark. “They are? Where? No, I don’t think he’s on coke. I think he’s nervous,” Fisher told me.
Before Fisher was hustled inside the theater for the 6 p.m. screening, she told me, “My mother is a dear woman.” I asked if anything surprised her while making the doc? “You know what surprised me? She didn’t want to be interviewed as being larger than life as she usually does because she didn’t understand the nature of it (the documentary).”
“Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debby Reynolds” had its world premiere in Cannes where it received raves. It’s a showbiz movie and a portrait of aging and how it hits movie stars particularly hard. Primarily it’s the close-up look of a mother-daughter relationship that has its “Grey Garden” moments – Carrie and Debby break out in song at every opportunity – but also a picture of their unconditional love and support. The film is heartbreaking and funny at the same time. Everything is filtered through the keen eye and great dry wit of Fisher so it leaves you on a high.
The entire family is zany. Todd Fisher, Carrie’s brother, and his wife keep a chicken as a pet. “It’s an emotional support chicken,” says his wife during the film. “So get poultry as pets,” Carrie Fisher said dryly to a question about the chicken during the Q&A. And her own more conventional pet, a French bulldog named Garry Fisher, who gives her kisses and follows her around everywhere.
On the red carpet I asked Carrie’s brother how his mother was doing. In the movie there is an excruciating scene where Debbie Reynolds is frail but insists on going to the SAG Awards where she received a lifetime tribute and repeats herself in her acceptance speech so you worry if she will get through it. Todd told me that since then, “She’s doing very well. She was not doing well a year ago. She was very ill and we weren’t sure what was going to happen.” She had surgery on her spine for a cist and there were complications he told me. “It was a successful surgery but surgery at age 84 is no joke.”
“But she’s totally turned around and she’s going to be calling in tonight,” Fisher said. “She’s in very good shape! She’s unsinkable!”
During the Q&A following the screening, Todd Fisher dialed his mom and put her on speakerphone, where she sang in a clear voice that could be heard even from the back of the cavernous theater: “I’ve got you under my skin… I’ve got you deep in the heart of me, so deep in my heart you’re really a part of me, so I’ve you under my skin.” Debbie Reynolds ended with, “I’m sorry I can’ be there. I miss you. I love you all,” she told the cheering audience.
The archival shots of Debbie Reynolds dancing and singing to the great old MGM movies like “Singin’ in the Rain” are followed with shots of the actress today, still immaculately groomed and made up but of course much older and looking tired and frail. Even while she’s in pain she can’t stop booking herself into Las Vegas gigs, wearing 50 lb. beaded gowns and telling showbiz jokes. You can see the mainly elderly audiences love her. Performing is oxygen to her.
“It doesn’t make sense to her that her body isn’t cooperating,” says Carrie in the film after one of her mother’s performances, “And she just thinks if she ignores it it’ll go away. Everything demands that my mother remain as she always was, even if that was irritating. She just can’t change. That’s the rule. And she’s fucking with me,” adding, “It’s horrible for all of us but she falls from a very great height.”
As for her own aging, Carrie Fisher says even before the revived “Star Wars,” she would see her co-stars like Harrison Ford around saying they pretty much look the same. “We just look more melted.”
Photo of Carrie Fisher and brother Todd c2016 Showbiz411 by Paula Schwartz