Carrie Fisher's Best Roles
Princess Leia, Star Wars (1977–1983; 2015)
Fisher’s claim to fame isn’t just marked by one of the most memorable characters in film history, but one of its most groundbreaking. Her Princess Leia — clever, heroic, headstrong, sarcastic, stunning, self-confident — blasted away any archetype of a damsel in distress and paved the way for generations of actresses and filmmakers to continue the work she started in a galaxy far, far away in reinventing the female hero. Legacy aside, inside their own vacuum the Star Wars movies lived and breathed when Fisher was onscreen, to say everything of her captivating presence and indelible chemistry with Harrison Ford (and to say nothing of her iconic likeness, with its sweeping whites, metallic golds, and swirling shades of brunette).
General Leia Organa, Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Returning to her legendary role for the franchise’s seventh film, Fisher was a game participant in the Star Wars revival and charmingly debuted her wizened but not hardened General Leia, who, thirty years later, was just as familiar as the first time we saw her.
April, Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
In her first and only endeavor with Woody Allen, Fisher stood out in a cast of established actors (including Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey, and Michael Caine) as April, a man-hungry friend-turned-rival, both romantic and professional, of actress Holly, played by would-be Oscar winner Dianne Wiest.
Writer, Postcards From the Edge (1987; 1990)
As a writer, Fisher was brazenly honest about her struggles with drugs, which she channeled into her semi-autobiographical 1987 novel about a rehabilitating actress on the rebound from an overdose. In 1990, Meryl Streep would famously play the role, as directed by Mike Nichols from a screenplay adapted by Fisher herself and nominated for a BAFTA.
Carol Peterson, The ‘Burbs (1989)
Fisher teamed with Tom Hanks to send up suburbia in the 1989 dark comedy, which found her playing the suspicious housewife of an increasingly unhinged Hanks. Though Fisher was saddled as the rational character in an ensemble of eccentrics, she still made the most of her comic moments amid the knuckleheads.
Marie, When Harry Met Sally... (1989)
Arguably one of the best supporting characters in the rom-com lexicon is Marie, the best (female) friend of Meg Ryan’s Sally and her thematic parallel in love, marriage, and self-determinism. Turning a disastrous double-date into a wedding (with Bruno Kirby’s Jess), Marie is a voice of reason — as long as you’re not talking about a wagon wheel coffee table.
Monica, Loverboy (1989)
Fisher struck up romance with a 22-year-old Patrick Dempsey in this ensemble comedy, in which the actress played a married photographer in need of validation coping with her husband’s work with models.
Betsy Faye Sharon, Soapdish (1991)
Shining in another ensemble, Fisher played an oversexed casting executive on the campy soap opera, The Sun Also Sets. Remember her well by her self-description: “I’m Betsy Faye Sharon and I’m a bitch. Now get out of here.”
The mark of a Hollywood icon is the ability — or even just the demand — to play oneself, and Fisher sent up Fisher in TV shows like Sex and the City, The Big Bang Theory (wielding a baseball bat against Jim Parsons and James Earl Jones), and It’s Like, You Know... as well as the mock doc Lisa Picard is Famous and 2014’s Maps to the Stars.
Angela, Family Guy (2005–2016)
As a voice actress, Fisher became a surprise staple in later seasons of the long-running Fox comedy, playing Peter’s (Seth MacFarlane) no-nonsense, desperately single boss at the Pawtucket Brewery.
Rosemary Howard, 30 Rock (2007)
Fisher earned her first Emmy nomination for a season two guest spot as Liz Lemon’s (Tina Fey) one-time childhood idol, who turns out to be hilariously deranged (but still gets to deliver an A-plus Princess Leia reference on the Star Wars-heavy sitcom).
Playwright/Star, Wishful Drinking (2009)
Broadway welcomed Fisher’s raw deconstruction of a life as Hollywood royalty in her successful one-woman show Wishful Drinking, based on her 2008 memoir which itself began as a play in Los Angeles. In 2010, HBO went on to film the stage show and release it as a documentary, earning Fisher another Emmy nomination for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special.
Mia, Catastrophe (2015)
Fisher played the in-law from hell in Amazon’s subversive comedy. Equally matched with her difficult son (Rob Delaney) and frustrated daughter-in-law (Sharon Horgan), Fisher laced the heinous Mia Norris with just enough compassion to balance out the selfish horrors.