Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher’s world has sometimes seemed as fraught with drama as the fictional galactic battles in which she made her name.
Her dysfunctional life as the child of Hollywood stars Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, drug and alcohol addiction and periods of depression have all been well documented.
Dark times indeed, yet the woman best known for her role as Princess Leia remains upbeat, witty and self- deprecating.
Her acting awards pale into insignificance against the clutch of gongs she’s received for the state of her mind, she notes, recalling a mental health event she recently attended.
“I got an award for being mentally ill. That’s the kind of award I get. If I get enough of these I get to trade them in for sanity,” she jokes.
Her four novels to date, including Postcards From The Edge, have all been New York Times bestsellers, while her one-woman confessional stage show, Wishful Drinking, was published in book form in 2008.
In the show, she talks about her failed marriages to Paul Simon and Hollywood agent Bryan Lourd (who fathered her daughter, Billie, but then left her for a man), her friendship with gay Republican lobbyist Greg Stevens who was found dead in her California mansion in 2005 and her battle with drugs, alcohol and depression.
But plenty more weird episodes are packed into Shockaholic, including spending Michael Jackson’s last Christmas with him, snorting cocaine with her errant father, making peace with her one-time stepmother Elizabeth Taylor, undergoing electric shock treatment to suppress her depression and her recent dramatic weight loss. The list goes on.
Some of the stories are heartbreakingly sad, yet Fisher, 55, makes them laugh-out-loud funny on the page.
“But being able to make light of situations doesn’t mean they’re light,” she says.
Her relationship with her father, who died last year, will certainly tug at the heartstrings. She was just two when Eddie Fisher left Reynolds for Taylor, whom he married before she dumped him for Richard Burton.
Fisher saw very little of her father while she was growing up, but after his fifth wife died in 2001, his daughter became his main carer. He finally needed her. No-one else would do.
“It meant the world to me. I got a family. I didn’t get a father but I got a very close family member,” she says.
“He always needed to be parented, told what to do and what not to do. I need someone to do that with me, too.”
After a period of dementia, Fisher broke his hip. He died 13 days later following complications. “I didn’t feel like I’d had enough of him,” she says.
How did she cope? “Like I do with everything else, I pretend it’s not happening until I can’t any more. It haunted me and stayed with me. It still does.”
She never asked him why he’d been an absent father. “He felt guilty, but he never did anything about it. He wasn’t capable. It would have been impossible for him to turn himself inside out and change.”
Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher is published by Simon & Schuster, priced £14.99