When fans and writers discuss Carrie Fisher‘s film career, Princess Leia gets all of the attention – and for good reason. Leia was a damsel in distress who held her own and kicked considerable ass in the company of men. Fisher herself said, “I like Princess Leia… I like how she handles things; I like how she treats people.” I grew up with Star Wars. It’s an undeniable cultural phenomenon, and Leia is major for me, too.
But people either forget or are unaware that Fisher made her film debut two years before Star Wars in a little movie with Warren Beatty called Shampoo (1975). Directed by Hal Ashby, Shampoo revolves around a promiscuous Beverly Hills hairdresser (Beatty) who sleeps with virtually every woman who sits in his salon chair. It also stars Julie Christie, Goldie Hawn and Lee Grant, who play women he’s sleeping with who all think they’re the only women he’s sleeping with.
In a small but unforgettable role, a then 17 year old Carrie Fisher displayed a precocious razor-sharp wit that was beyond her years at the time – a foreshadow of the disarming and inimitable sass that would become her trademark, a savvy that saw so clearly and hilariously through the hoax of show business and of life itself. In her brief performance as Lee Grant’s daughter and another one of Beatty’s conquests (or was he her conquest?), she beautifully outmaneuvered two of the most lecherous, manipulative and selfish grown-ups (one being her mother) that any adolescent in safe, rich, white suburbia might ever encounter.
If you love Carrie Fisher half as much as I do, and if you’ve never seen Shampoo, watch it as soon as you can. (Then watch Postcards from the Edge.)