smart spending

Fame & Fortune: Carrie Fisher

Bankrate: Was there a specific moment whent you realized how much "Star Wars" would come to mean for so many people?

Carrie Fisher: No. It was a shock to me in the beginning when they were waiting in line like that. We used to drive by the lines like, "Oh my God! What the hell?" No film had ever done that. It wasn't like, "Remember when this happened with 'Flipper?'" It hadn't happened. They invented the term "blockbuster" for that film, because the lines broke for blocks. So when we did the second film, we realized we were doing a hit movie. There was this huge appetite for these other films, and that was a completely unique situation.

Bankrate: Now that you've had time to let it sink in, what was the greatest long-term effect of electroshock therapy on you?

Carrie Fisher: There's less agitation. I was having some trouble with depression, and the medication really wasn't working. It's not like I was suicidal, but I wasn't really glad I was alive.

Bankrate: With all the success you've had with acting and writing, have there been periods when you've had real economic hardship?

Carrie Fisher: Absolutely. How about right now? I've been working for the past two years on the road in nonprofit theaters. Nonprofit, as it relates to me, basically refers to the fact that they're paying me practically nothing. There's no profit like nonprofit, because someone's making a bunch of money somewhere, but it's not the performer or the writer. I know both the performer and the writer of "Wishful Drinking," and neither of them got paid very much.

Bankrate: With Princess Leia being so iconic, it's easy to assume that ...

Carrie Fisher: ... that I had a whole bunch of money? Why would I still be getting money in my early 50s off points that I received in my early 20s? I know people assume I'm very rich. I even do so sometimes, at the great despair of my office.

Bankrate: That being the case, when you make decisions about what you're going to do next in your career, is it more about the economics of it?

Carrie Fisher: Sometimes, it's definitely about the economics of it. I don't just work as an artist. I have to make a living. I have a house. I have a daughter. I have people that take care of the house. I have people that work with me that make my life easier so I can write and perform. I need to make sure everybody's taken care of.

Bankrate: So that's why you took the role in (the recent slasher film remake) "Sorority Row"?

Carrie Fisher: Absolutely. They paid me great.

Bankrate: I was a little surprised when I saw you in the trailer.

Carrie Fisher: If I hadn't done that film, I would have gone broke this year. You'd be surprised how many people are in that position. You make your biggest amount of money when you're young, when you're getting a bunch of parts. That's when it's all happening. But you have to save that money, and I did not do that.

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