Actor says Hollywood has changed little in the 38 years since she was first asked to lose weight to play Princess Leia
Carrie Fisher has revealed she felt pressured to lose weight in order to reprise her role as Princess Leia Organa in the new Star Wars movie The Force Awakens. Fisher, 59, says she felt obliged to lose 16kg (2st7lbs), and directed criticism at the “insane” image obsession of Hollywood.
The actor suggested Hollywood remains an image-conscious place, almost four decades after she was told to lose weight as a 19-year-old ingenue preparing for her role in 1977’s Star Wars. “They don’t want to hire all of me – only about three-quarters! Nothing changes, it’s an appearance-driven thing,” the actor and writer told Good Housekeeping magazine. “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.”
She continued by saying she had a hard time reconciling her weight loss with the change in attitudes it prompted from those in the industry: “When I do lose the weight, I don’t like that it makes me feel good about myself. It’s not who I am,” she said. “My problem is they talk to me like an actress, but I hear them like a writer … 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 told Good Housekeeping she had lost the weight for the film by eating less and exercising more. “There is no other way to do it. I have a harder time eating properly than I do exercising. It’s easier for me to add an activity than to deny myself something,” said Fisher.
The news of Fisher’s weight loss comes as JJ Abrams, the director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, has said he hopes to transform the space opera from a “boys’ thing” to a female-friendly franchise. Speaking on US show Good Morning America, Abrams echoed previous suggestions by the producer and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy that the new film will place more emphasis on female characters.
“Star Wars was always a boys’ thing, and a movie that dads could take their sons to,” Abrams said. “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.”
The Force Awakens certainly boasts more female leads than any of the earlier films in the franchise. As well as Fisher returning to the fold, one of the main characters will be Rey, played by relative unknown Daisy Ridley. Lupita Nyong’o will also play the ancient space pirate Maz Kanata while Gwendoline Christie will take the role of warrior Captain Phasma. Fisher’s character of Princess Leia will also now be known as Resistance leader General Organa, reflecting her promotion from a lowly Rebel Alliance fighter.
Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy has also said she had “no doubt” there will be a female director of Star Wars in the future. In October she said definitively: “We will hire a woman who is going to direct a Star Wars movie.”
This article was written by Ben Child, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 1st December 2015 10.43 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010