Carrie Fisher, the actress and writer best known for her iconic role as Princess Leia in Star Wars, has died. She was 60 years old.
Family spokesman Simon Halls confirmed the news, saying Fisher had passed away on Tuesday 27th December, days after it was revealed that she had suffered a cardiac arrest on a flight from London to Los Angeles.
“It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning,” said the statement on behalf of Fisher’s only daughter Billie Lourd.
“She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly. Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.”
The actress was born to Hollywood star Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher in 1956, but came to London in 1973 to study acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama.
Carrie Fisher with mother Debbie Reynolds, pictured in 1972
She was just 19 when she filmed her iconic role as Princess Leia in the first Star Wars film; she would go on to star in all three instalments of the original trilogy, as well as last year’s Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
She also featured in films including The Blues Brothers and When Harry Met Sally, and later used her sharp wit to full effect, making a surprise recurring appearance in Channel 4 comedy Catastrophe.
Co-creator Sharon Horgan posted a message on Instagram in tribute to her late co-star.
“I did really want to play an awful person,” Fisher said of the role earlier this year. “There are not a lot of choices for women past 27. I don’t wait by the phone.”
In a memoir published earlier this year, Fisher revealed that she and Star Wars co-star Harrison Ford had had an affair while filming the original Star Wars. Fisher was 19, Ford was 33 and married to first wife Mary Marquardt – Fisher told People magazine that it was an “intense” experience.
“It was Han and Leia during the week, and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend,” she said.
Fisher has also been public about her issues with substance abuse, writing about it in the semi-autobiographical 1987 novel Postcards from the Edge – later turned into a film starring Meryl Streep. In 1985 she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and later spoke about the condition with Stephen Fry in his BBC documentary The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive.
This evening Fry paid tribute to Fisher, saying it was “a crushing blow” to lose her.
She was the brightest, funniest, bravest, kindest, cleverest and sweetest person I ever knew. A crushing blow to lose @carrieffisher— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) December 27, 2016
In 2015, Fisher explained to Rolling Stone why she chose to return to Star Wars for The Force Awakens.
“I think I said once it followed me around like a vague exotic smell. I have been in Star Wars since I was 20,” she said, adding, “On a certain level I don’t understand what makes it not a movie, but this experience, this family member. It’s cherished! It’s f***ing cherished! Why? You’re not just an actor in this movie; you’re a diplomat to a country you didn’t know existed, and didn’t until 1977.”