Carrie Fisher’s Life as a Respected Script Doctor
From 'Hook', to 'Lethal Weapon 3', to even the Star Wars prequels, Carrie Fisher spent many years off-camera as one of Hollywood's most respected Script Doctors.
Script doctors are usually successful writers in Hollywood who are brought in for uncredited work to fine tune scripts. They may work on a single character or scene, insert/re-write some jokes, fill in the blanks between scenes, or completely overhaul a script to make it flow better. Other notable Script Doctors include Quentin Tarantino and 'Avengers' writer/director Joss Whedon, who reportedly doctored scripts for 'X-Men', 'Twister', 'Speed', and 'Waterworld'. According to writer/director Shane Black, a script doctor is also looked upon as an insurance policy,
A script would be questionable and the trembling executive would give it to a famous writer with a million bucks, so he could say, ‘Yeah, it’s fortified now. We’ve given it vitamins. Wait, wait, wait… It needs the woman’s touch. Give it to Carrie Fisher!’ It just made people breathe easier, throwing money at this enormous behemoth. Even if the movie sucked, now they could say, ‘It’s not our fault.’
While Fisher may not have appeared on screen much during the 90s, and in turn the average consumer probably thought her career had tanked, Fisher was one of the most respected and sought after script doctors in Hollywood. After the success of her book and movie adaptation of 'Postcards From the Edge', Fisher made a lucrative career fixing other writers' scripts. According to Slashfilm, Fisher was making as much as $100,000 a week just for her work as a Script Doctor.
So what are some of the films that Fisher doctored?
- 'Return of the Jedi'. Though not officially a script doctor, Fisher was forced to rewrite some of her own dialogue to keep up with Harrison Ford who was constantly changing Han Solo's lines.
- 'Hook'. Brought on to work on comedic moments for Tinkerbell, but didn't care for the project and accepted another job just to leave.
- 'The River Wild'. Fisher called her work on this the one she's most proud of as it served as a distraction after her split with Bryan Lourd.
- 'Sister Act'. Fisher also worked with Whoopi Goldberg to maintain Goldberg's relationship with the studio during tense times.
- 'Lethal Weapon 3'. Fisher focused on Rene Russo's character and dialogue.
- 'Last Action Hero'. Fisher was brought in to work on the the mother's (Mercedes Ruehl) dialogue and relationship with the son.
- 'The Wedding Singer'. Fisher was hired to flesh out Drew Barrymore's part and make it more balanced. She also reportedly wrote an alternate ending where Julia and Glen make it to Las Vegas to get married and break up off screen and Julia and Robbie meet up on a bar.
- 'So I Married an Ax Murderer'. Fisher's rewrites were for the project when it was still intended for Chevy Chase.
- 'Scream 3'. Fisher wrote a part specifically for herself as a studio record keeper who was up for the part of Princess Leia but lost out to "the girl who slept with George Lucas."
- The Star Wars prequels. Fisher didn't speak too much on her involvement with the prequels beyond confirming her script doctor status.
Other films Fisher worked as a Script Doctor on...
- 'Made in America'
- 'Milk Money'
- 'My Girl 2'
- 'Love Affair'
- 'The Mirror Has Two Faces'
- 'The Out-of-Towners'
- 'Coyote Ugly'
- 'Kate & Leopold'
- 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith'
Fisher told Newsweek in 2008 that the nature of Script Doctoring changed, preventing Doctors from working as they had,
It was a long, very lucrative episode of my life. But it’s complicated to do that. Now it’s all changed, actually. Now in order to get a rewrite job, you have to submit your notes for your ideas on how to fix the script. So they can get all the notes from all the different writers, keep the notes and not hire you. That’s free work and that’s what I always call life-wasting events.