Emotional HBO Documentary Captures Unbreakable Mother And Daughter Bond Between Two Late Hollywood Icons.
Debbie Reynolds was seen baring major facial bruising in parts of the emotional Bright Lights: Starring Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher documentary.
The feature premiered Saturday on HBO, illustrating the tender relationship between famous mother-daughter duo, who died within a single day one another last month.
The documentary deals with the beautiful, sometimes tragic, relationship the Hollywood icons shared, and how they coped with fame and the spotlight through multiple decades.
The duo were laid to rest in a joint funeral at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles on Friday morning. On Thursday, celebrities who came to honor the legendary pair at a private memorial service included Meg Ryan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Meryl Streep, Ellen Barkin, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lea Michele, and Ed Begley Jr. and Eric Idle.
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In addition to the mother-daughter pair, the documentary, directed by Fisher Stevens and Alexis Bloom, turned its attention to key figures in their Hollywood story, including Carrie’s father, singer Eddie Fisher; her brother, filmmaker Todd Fisher; and her lifelong friend, After Hours actor Griffin Dunne.
The documentary opens with Carrie doing what daughters do – carrying some food over to mom. The pair live in separate houses on a plot of land they call ‘the compound.’
‘I usually come to her,’ Carrie says, then pauses dryly. ‘I always come to her.’
‘Lovey, I’m home!’ she calls out, balancing a tray of mac ‘n cheese, when she finds her mother sitting on the floor, tapping her flip phone. ‘You can’t keep that phone,’ Carrie chides. ‘That’s from when they first invented cell phones.’
The tender sequence came when Debbie is injured ahead of an auction of her memorabilia when she falls on the floor at home, causing massive bruising to her face.
‘Unfortunately, my mother just fell because she was dizzy walking into her bathroom,’ Todd said of Reynolds, who was in her 80s at the time. ‘When we saw her, we were all in horror, because we were like, “Wait a second, you could have broke your neck and be dead right now.”‘
Debbie’s sunny old movie star hoofer persona is never far away. When a smoke alarm in her home starts blaring, she breaks into song. ‘Just one of those things. Just one of those fabulous things,’ she sings.
Fisher, describing her mother’s Old Hollywood vanity, explained the unique dynamic in watching the elegant show biz lifer continue to try to recapture past glories in taking to the stage into her 80s. She’s still a draw, with packed audiences every night – but there’s no doubt the years are catching up with her. She even uses an oxygen tank occasionally.
‘Age is horrible for all of us,’ Carrie said, ‘but she falls from a greater height.’
The documentary makes a point of reminding younger viewers just how famous Debbie was – and not only for her talent. Her husband, Carrie and Todd’s father, Eddie Fisher, famously ran off with Debbie’s dangerously gorgeous friend, Elizabeth Taylor.
The flip-side of celebrity was also on display as Carrie recalled how a destitute Eddie – largely portrayed as an absentee father – once hit her up for money in the wake of her Star Wars successes, fuming at her when she wouldn’t give it to him.
‘It just makes me cringe when you think about stars who aren’t stars anymore – it’s humiliating,’ she said.
One tender sequence showed Carrie and Eddie mending fences much later in life, shortly before he died in 2010 after suffering a slew of health problems.
‘I got to know him as there was less of him to know,’ she said.
What the film beautifully captures is the dynamic between the two. Estranged for many years, they have obviously moved far, far past that, to the point where Carrie says ‘I’m my mom’s best friend,’ and Debbie declares ‘I share everything with my daughter… especially the check.’ (It’s clear where Carrie got her zingy sense of humor.)
The documentary makes it painfully clear why one couldn’t live without the other.
The documentary began with a montage of the mother-daughter duo throughout the years, throughout Debbie’s star turns on stage and in classics such as her star-making turn in 1950’s Three Little Words, as well as her 1952 classic Singin’ in the Rain and her Oscar-nominated performance in 1964’s The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Carrie’s impressive resume, most famously her signature role of Princess Leia in the Star Wars trilogy and its subsequent prequels and sequels.
It segued into Carrie, her mother’s next door neighbor in Beverly Hills, helping Debbie prepare for an upcoming nightclub act. Carrie joked about the family’s enduring fame: ‘We are always on the red carpet – we have red carpets connecting our homes.’
Carrie said that her efforts to try and slow Debbie down from booking more stage gigs were akin to standing in front of a tsunami – or ‘Tsu-Mommy,’ as she put it.
‘I totally understand why she’s doing it, and it makes me nervous – she’ll forget that she’s not he’s not 35,’ Carrie said. ‘It doesn’t make sense to her that her body is not cooperating. She just can’t change, that’s a rule – and she’s f—ing with me.’
In one sequence, Debbie’s difficulty in hanging up her mic is evident, as the singer was seen dealing with health issues while simultaneously pleasing adoring crowds into her 80s.
Despite Carrie’s opinion that her mother should have retired, she continued to support her though and through, standing by her side for both a show at the Nevada casino South Point; and for her hallowed Life Achievement Award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards two years ago.
She explained her reluctant support: ‘If my mother’s unhappy, it lives on my grid so I both want to – and have to – help my mother. She was very good to her mother and she didn’t deserve it: Debbie deserves it.
‘I think I’m my mom’s best friend – more than a daughter.’
Speaking on the unique nature of life in a show biz clan, Todd explained that the dynamic played into his marriage to actress Catherine Hickland.
‘I think that it’s important that you marry inside the entertainment race,’ he said. ‘People don’t get it, my family, in particular, could overwhelm most people.’
The documentary also touched on Carrie’s well-documented battle with drug addiction over the years, as the brutally-honest beauty herself chronicled in her 1987 book Postcards From The Edge, with Fisher and Reynolds loosely portrayed by Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine, respectively, in the 1990 film adaptation. Fisher said of her work: ‘I was very unhappy back then, I was just a mess … and some of the things that were in the movie happened!’
Carrie noted, ‘The drugs I liked were painkillers … they calmed me down.’
Todd said that there was ‘true anger’ between Reynolds and Carrie over the latter’s addiction battles.
In a jarring anecdote, Carrie explained the dynamic in her household that stressed show biz over all else, and how it might have paved a dangerous path.
‘I have been singing since I was 13-years-old. My mother wanted to be able to groom me for show business,’ she said. ‘My mother would say, do drugs, do whatever you need to do, but why don’t you sing?’
‘I couldn’t handle it, I didn’t know what it was,’ she said of the condition she attributed her drug use to.
‘That wasn’t diagnosed then, nobody knew what was going on with Carrie,’ Debbie says, her face creasing with worry even after all of this time.
In one sequence filmed around Debbie’s SAG honors in 2015, a candid Carrie admitted she was feeling mentally uneasy, but kept optimistic she’d come back around.
‘I’m manic now and I haven’t been for a while – it’ll go out of style soon and I’ll just be quirky,’ she said.
By this point in the documentary, Carrie had hardly slowed down either. Not only did she have a new book in the works, but she was in the midst of rehearsals for, as she puts it, ‘Star Wars seven… ty-two.’
Though Carrie often mentions her concern for her mother’s health, the years seem to be creeping up behind her as well – she appears pale and drawn, somewhat frail. She chain smokes.
‘The force will be with you – always’
Of course, a comprehensive documentary about Carrie Fisher included plenty of talk about her turn in the Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and the recent slate of films in the franchise.
Carrie thought Star Wars ‘was going to be a B-film,’ according to Todd, unaware that her casting in the iconic films would play a huge role in defining her legacy – and lucrative until the end.
In one sequence, viewers saw Carrie attending a fan convention described as a ‘mini-Comic-Con,’ a monthly occurrence for the sci-fi legend, with hundreds of hardcore fans more than happy to shell out $70 a pop for her signature and a few moments with the actress who famously uttered the classic cinematic line, ‘Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.’
‘It’s sort of like going to a strip club – except they don’t stuff cash in your underwear – but that’s kind of it.’
In a backstage interview as she relaxed with a cigarette, Carrie explained the interesting dynamic in play as die-hard Star Wars fans got a brief brush with the heroine of the famed franchise.
‘She’s me and I’m her, I mean they talk to me like I’m Princess Leia, who happens to have all of these difficult experiences to go through and that’s like me, fighting for the force,’ she explained. ‘It’s nice, they’re nice.’
In one scene showing off Carrie’s sharp with, she posed near a statue of her onscreen alter ego, joking, ‘They sold this on the internet as a Princess Leia sex doll!’
By Dailymail.com Reporter