Movie critic Moira Macdonald remembers Carrie Fisher's best roles — beyond Princess Leia.
A lot of us are pausing today to think of Carrie Fisher, who died Tuesday at the age of 60. Fisher was known and beloved to a generation as Princess Leia Organa of the original “Star Wars” — a role she played while barely out of her teens — but despite those iconic hair-buns, I think I’ll remember her best for some of her other screen roles.
Most were supporting characters, some barely more than extended cameos, but her best moments showed off a certain no-nonsense, I-know-what’s-what warmth that made us all wish we had her for a best friend.
- Marie in “When Harry Met Sally . . .” (1989). The supportive, ever-so-slightly cynical best friend is a romantic-comedy cliche — but Fisher played it to perfection. That four-way phone call? That wagon-wheel table? Those index cards, creased in one corner? That appearance in a wedding gown that made Sally cry? I’ve seen this movie way too many times, but I might have to watch it again tonight, noting how Fisher, without ever stealing the spotlight from Meg Ryan, quietly made us believe her in every scene.
- April in “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986). Another best friend (though a slightly competitive one), this time to Dianne Wiest, in a Woody Allen classic. And is this the first and only time Fisher sang in a movie? Her character, an actress auditioning for a Broadway musical, sweetly warbles a few bars of “The Way You Look Tonight.”
- Betsy Fay Sharon in “Soapdish” (1991). It’s not much more than a cameo, but Fisher’s hilariously slick as a three-named soap-opera executive in this bubbly comedy.
- Rosemary Howard on “30 Rock” (2007). Fisher popped up, to great effect, on an episode of “30 Rock,” playing an aging comedy writer who was Liz Lemon’s childhood idol. Rosemary is, as Fisher’s performance gleefully reveals, not entirely sane — and her last line, “Help me, Liz Lemon! You’re my only hope!,” is a callback to Leia in “Star Wars.”
And it’s impossible to watch “Postcards from the Edge” without thinking of Fisher, who wrote the screenplay based on her own novel/memoir of growing up as Hollywood royalty and struggling with addiction. “I don’t want life to imitate art,” says Meryl Streep as Suzanne Vale, the character based on the real-life Fisher. “I want life to be art.”
Do you have a favorite Carrie Fisher role? Or will she always be Leia to you?