Carrie Fisher, who died at age 60 Tuesday following a heart attack, was known and loved across the galaxy for several things.
To many, her turn as Princess Leia in Star Wars was up there with the all-time great movie roles. Others also loved her memorable appearance in When Harry Met Sally or her stint on 30 Rock. Still more celebrated Fisher for her openness about mental health and addiction.
One immensely important but often overlooked aspect of her career, however, was her skill at screenwriting, specifically her ability to polish the dialogue of other writers into gleaming nuggets of cinematic brilliance.
And it wasn’t just science fiction, although she had plenty to say about the Star Wars scripts during her long career as a script doctor. Fisher punched up the dialogue for a variety of beloved movies including Sister Act and The Wedding Singer.
Fisher’s long stint as a script doctor began with her adding her own notes to the first Star Wars script but really kicked off after she adapted her semi-autobiographical novel Postcards from the Edge for the screen.
Starring Meryl Streep, the well received 1990 movie saw studios calling on her to take a look at their own scripts in development. Before long, she’d worked her magic on everything from Hook to Lethal Weapon 3. She was once described by Entertainment Weekly as “one of the most sought after doctors in town.”
Fisher lifted the lid on the practice in an interview with Newsweek in 2008, saying it was a “long, very lucrative episode of my life.”
“But it’s complicated to do that,” she added. “Now it’s all changed, actually. Now in order to get a rewrite job, you have to submit your notes for your ideas on how to fix the script. So they can get all the notes from all the different writers, keep the notes and not hire you. That’s free work and that’s what I always call life-wasting events.”
Fisher’s advice for screenwriters hoping to create Hollywood magic on the page? “Make the women smarter and the love scenes better.”
Yet another facet of a gifted and much-missed icon.
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