“I’m good at this,” Carrie Fisher says about 10 minutes into a 1994 interview with Charlie Rose. But she’s selling herself short. Fisher was great at this. Though we all fell in love with her interview appearances during the promotional cycle for 2015's The Force Awakens, she had been doing this—that is, giving every interviewer more wit, thoughtfulness, and well-meaning aggression than the average celebrity—for years.
Take this exchange, which occurs after Fisher tells she “respects” Rose for having a job that “costs” him so much (i.e. the time he could otherwise spend on his personal life).
CHARLIE ROSE: I’ve just gone from certainty to self-doubt.
CARRIE FISHER: Aw,I’m so glad to take you there. Fly Air Fisher.
Later, Rose brings up a quote from John Belushi he alleges that Fisher “objected” to bringing up during the interview. Fisher corrects him, saying she does not “object to anything,” and continues:
FISHER: I like the truth in any form. It only bothers me if I’m asked the truth about other people, I cannot tell their truth. I will tell mine in any form. I want to. I do. That is what I do. It excites me. It excites me about other people. So, yes, John Belushi said to me, ‘You and I are alike,’ and then he died. And he was right. Because I could have. I still could.
ROSE: You still could?
FISHER: Sure! I mean I live with that. It could happen again at any time. Absolutely.
ROSE: But you stopped.
FISHER: I stopped 10 years ago. I had a slip.
ROSE: Why did you have a slip?
FISHER: Because I went to the dentist. I was given Percocet. You think I’m gonna read the thing and go, ‘One every four hours? That’s a good idea!’
ROSE: I don’t understand addiction.
FISHER: Well I don’t think we’ve got the time for me to explain it to you. I don’t think it can be explained. I do believe it’s somehow inborn. And that you have to really work hard at it. I mean, I have an obsessive, disorganized nature. But I do get organized results on occasion. But, unfortunately, I have to work very hard at keeping this beast tamed.’”
The interview, conducted when she was 37, shows a marked change from her behavior during The Empire Strikes Back’s publicity tour of her youth, when she (and in one instance, Billy Dee Williams) turned a deaf ear to every awful question asked, and responded more politely than the interviewers probably deserved.
“I write a little bit,” she quietly told a journalist 1980 when asked about her hobbies. Fortunately for us, she started writing—and talking—a whole lot more. Now that she’s gone, it doesn’t feel like enough. But we’ll take what we were so lucky to have been given.