The original Star Wars trilogy is filled with classical characters. You have Luke, the farm boy destined to be a hero. You have Obi-Wan, the wise mentor who aids the hero on his quest.
You have Darth Vader, the evil wizard determined to rule the kingdom (or galaxy in this case). And you have Leia, the princess who needs to be rescued from the evil fortress. Except in the case of Star Wars, the role of helpless princess is thrown out the window in favor of one of the most exciting, capable, and fun characters to ever appear on the screen.
The longstanding success of Princess Leia is thanks in no small part to Carrie Fisher, the actress who brought her to life, and while Fisher will always be most well known for her time in a galaxy far far away, it wasn’t the only role that was elevated thanks to Fisher’s acting. These are five of the best non-Star Wars performances from Carrie Fisher.
1. Mystery Woman – The Blues Brothers
The character didn’t even get a name, but that didn’t stop Carrie Fisher from leaving her mark on this comedy classic. The cast of The Blues Brothers is stacked, with tons of musicians making cameos in seemingly every other scene, so it would be easy for a supporting role to get lost in the shuffle, yet Carrie Fisher is more than able to hold her own in this movie.
Despite her limited screen time, she’s able to bring to life a character that is one of the biggest driving factors in the movie. Her single minded pursuit of the main characters feels like it is coming from another movie, but Carrie Fisher makes it work, and in a movie full of superstar performances, Fisher gives one of her own.
2. Bianca – Scream 3
A lot of Carrie Fisher’s roles in the later part of her career we’re cameos or television guest spots that couldn’t help but highlight the fact that it was Carrie Fisher playing that role. The character may have been a doctor, or a novelist, or a lawyer, but the script would find some way to make sure the character said “You’re my only hope” or “I know.” Fisher always seemed game for these roles, and enjoyed poking fun at her relationship with the franchise, and it was never accomplished better than her scene in Scream 3.
Scream 3 takes place in Hollywood, and for one scene we meet Bianca, a struggling actress who was passed over for the role of Princess Leia in Star Wars and is still bitter about it. Fisher (as Bianca) complains about the actress the role of Leia went to, asserting that she in no way deserved it and probably got cast by other means. It’s one of Fisher’s funniest performances and is balanced perfectly, leaning heavily on the fourth wall while never quite crashing through it.
3. Lorna Karpf – Shampoo
Carrie Fisher’s first screen role, her only screen performance before Star Wars, was a small role in the Warren Beatty film Shampoo. It’s a short scene, but Fisher’s star power is evident almost immediately, as she holds her own against Beatty is a scene with the two of them alone in a kitchen. Some of the language in the scene (and the whole movie incidentally) has not aged very gracefully, but it’s still worth checking out to see Fisher’s first performance.
It’s a role that a young Carrie Fisher is perfect for, as she plays a girl, very aware of being compared to her mother, and resisting the comparison. Whether intentionally or not, it’s easy to see Fisher herself in the role, as she has to deal with the star power of her famous mother. It’s a uniquely powerful performance and it’s easy to see how she was able to make the leap to a lead role just one movie later.
4. Marie – When Harry Met Sally
Quite frankly, the best friend of the main character in a romantic comedy should be a role that isn’t worth Carrie Fisher’s time. However in this unique case, we’re talking about one of the best romantic comedies of all time, one that only succeeds in that because it’s working with the best of the best of the best. You have director Rob Reiner fresh off of working on The Princess Bride, directing a career best script from writer Nora Ephron, and a cast that’s filled out by some of the best working actors of the day.
This movie succeeds because everyone involved is putting out career defining performances, and that includes Carrie Fisher. It feels like this role is tailored to Fisher’s strengths, as she fires off snappy quips and retorts at every turn. She’s the perfect foil to her best friend Sally as played by Meg Ryan and helps to round out what may be a perfect cast in the perfect romantic comedy.
5. Carrie Fisher – Wishful Drinking
It may be cheating to put this one on the list, but truly some of Carrie Fisher’s most memorable performances were as herself. Fisher understood, perhaps better than anyone else who worked on Star Wars, that the movie had made her a permanent fixture of pop culture, and she embraced her role and took advantage of it, speaking out about causes that we’re important to her, and speaking against things that annoyed her. Fisher’s suffer no fools attitude endeared her to audiences around the world, and when she tragically passed away in 2016, inspiring fans to talk about their favorite moments in her career, there were as many moments that came from Fisher on talk shows or interviews as there were from Star Wars.
Fisher probably presented the best version of herself in her one-woman show Wishful Drinking that she performed on Broadway and was filmed for HBO, but any moment where Carrie Fisher was on stage, talking about pretty much anything, was a moment worth experiencing.
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