Carrie Fisher 1956-2016 – Her Role In Woody Allen’s Hannah And Her Sisters

Like the rest of the planet, we are so sad to hear about the death of Carrie Fisher. She suffered a heart attack days ago, and was in hospital ever since. There are a million tributes on the internet, and they don’t seem to be enough to capture how much we all loved her. There’s articles about her legacy, her impact on music, pop culture, fashion, feminism, theatre, mental illness awareness and so much more.

In our little corner, let’s talk about Fisher’s role in Hannah And Her Sisters. Fisher starred in Allen’s 1986 acclaimed classic, with top billing, playing the role of April, the romantic rival of Dianne Wiest’s Holly. Her scene with Sam Waterston as they explore the best architecture in New York is our favourite.

She also sang for the Allen film, although briefly. The Way You Look Tonight, the Jerome Kern song made famous by Fred Astaire and so many others.

They had various connections, but the call came from her agent – Allen was a fan. It was only a couple of years after Return Of the Jedi, when she worked with Allen – and he very much cast her against type. But Fisher had met Allen at aged 15 at a party. She told the story to Brian Linehan, of how she lightly embarrassed herself by being a huge fan.

She also talks about a scene from Hannah In Her Sisters that was left on the cutting room floor, where April and David are at an art gallery (of art by Frederick, Max Von Sydow‘s character). It was apparently filmed several times, and Fisher got food poisoning in one shoot. The scene is actually briefly glimpsed in the trailer (at 1:08).

Fisher also spoke to Maureen Dowd at the New York Times about the film in 1986. She gave her take on the film, probably more acutely than anyone interviewed. On Allen:

He seems to like women. And he likes them for good reasons, rather than their figures and stuff. Although he likes those, too. Around someone like Woody Allen – and there are not many people like him – you want to be at your best. It must be some sort of organic thing.

On Allen’s directing style:

…This Zen thing, freedom through limitation. He’s the only Zen director we have.

Allen’s directions to Fisher:

He thought I was smiling too much and gesticulating like an old Jewish woman. ‘He told me, ‘You’re coming in like my Aunt Velma.’ And he showed me what his Aunt Velma was like.

On the sisters:

They do terrible things behind each other’s backs and then they’re very sweet to each other. It’s sort of human.

On the overall theme of the film – summed up beautifully:

We can go to shrinks for 50,000 years and know why we do everything and then go back and do it again. You can have your mistake and repeat it, too.

A couple of those sisters have paid Fisher tribute on Twitter. Barbara Hershey and Mia Farrow.

Other connections – Fisher’s long time husband, Paul Simon, had starred in Annie Hall. She also gave an even better performance in When Harry Met Sally, the other great New York romantic comedy, written by Allen’s friend Nora Ephron. Do we mention The Blues Brothers?

She also said she was a female Woody Allen in 1983. The full text is here.

We loved her in so many things. From the terrible film clip to Paul Simon‘s Rene And Georgette Magritte And Their Dog After The War, to 30 Rock, to every interview of her’s we’ve ever read, to her wonderfully abrasive and honest Twitter account. We are so sad to hear about her passing, and our thoughts are with her loved ones. We can only join the chorus of fans who owe her, for a galaxy far far away, and the joy she brought us in this one too.

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1 Comment

  1. Just watched that Linehan interview again…considering the timeline (and info from other interviews), I think “food poisoning” was a euphemism her overdose and subsequent rehab.

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