“I had to share her and I didn’t like that,” Fisher said about Reynolds on NPR’s Fresh Air while on an extensive press tour promoting her eighth book, The Princess Diarist, barely a month before she died. “When we went out, people sort of walked over me to get to her, and no, I didn’t like it. And people thought—I overheard people saying, ‘She thinks she’s so great because she’s Debbie Reynolds’ daughter!’ And I didn’t like it; it made me different from other people and I wanted to be the same. I wanted to be, you know, just no different than anybody else.”
She couldn’t help but be different. Not ever inclined to just be Princess Leia, though there wasn’t much she could do about her slice of film immortality other than learn to embrace it, Fisher’s greatest role was easily herself.
Fisher’s gifts as an artist, writer and raconteur gave her a creative outlet for not only her childhood issues but also her personal life (she was married to Paul Simon for barely a year in the 1980s and was mom to daughter Billie Lourd with her talent agent ex Bryan Lourd), mental illness (she opened up about being helped by electroconvulsive therapy in her 2011 book Shockaholic) and what would be her life-long battle with substance abuse.
“We’re not enlightened,” her brother, Todd Fisher, said upon the release of the autopsy report that revealed there were traces of drugs, including cocaine, in his sister’s system. “There’s nothing about this that is enlightening.” (Tests couldn’t pinpoint the cause of death, but sleep apnea and a buildup of fatty tissue on her artery walls were also cited as contributing factors.)