How Carrie Fisher Helped Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor Bury their Feud Forever
An inside look at how Carrie Fisher helped Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor put their past behind them with a key scene in These Old Broads
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Bonded in life and death, Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds worked together many times over the decades, including on the 2001 TV movie These Old Broads. The film revolves around three feuding former Hollywood stars (Reynolds, Shirley MacLaine and Joan Collins) who share an agent (Elizabeth Taylor). These Old Broads was co-written by Fisher as a starring vehicle for her mother and good friends MacLaine and Taylor, but also as a way for the public to see that Reynolds and Taylor had long since buried the proverbial hatchet over Taylor’s role in ending Reynolds’ marriage to Eddie Fisher.
“Carrie had conceived and written it with Elaine Pope, I think as this kind of celebration, a love letter to her mother and Shirley MacLaine and Elizabeth Taylor, and Joan Collins then came aboard,” director Matthew Diamond says in PEOPLE’s new cover story. “So it was kind of Carrie’s way of being both affectionate and funny, loving and a little piercing all at the same time — in that way that Carrie could.”
According to producer Laurence Marks, Fisher wrote one scene in particular to highlight her mother’s once-fraught relationship with Taylor.
“Carrie got the most pleasure and the biggest kick out of concocting a scene with Debbie and Elizabeth that slyly referenced the long-ago, high-profile scandal in which they were both featured,” Marks tells PEOPLE. “She so enjoyed getting to bring them together on screen and to provide an opportunity for them to publicly let bygones be bygones.”
For much more about Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher’s lives, loves and unique bond, pick up this week’s issue of People, on newsstands Friday. And watch the full episode of People Cover Story: Debbie Reynolds & Carrie Fisher, available now on the People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the app for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Chromecast, Xfinity, iOS and Android devices.
Diamond likens the atmosphere during filming to watching a bunch of “high school girls” who were also “top notch professionals” laugh and tease each other.
“By that point Elizabeth seemed to be Carrie’s sort of favorite aunt,” he says. “Debbie and Elizabeth were very good friends by that point, Shirley had already played the Debbie role in Postcards from the Edge and they all knew each other, were all kind of best friends in the business. There was something of a ‘We get to do this together’ quality to the production.”
Adds Diamond: “I do know that Carrie as both a producer and a writer was concerned that they all get great performances, that they be protected, that they look great,” he says. “She knew where all that lived. She had been an actress, now she was a writer, she had grown up in the business, she understood that and obviously understood it even more so for her mother. So she was there to make sure we all in a sense were doing this with as much love as she had done it with—which we did.”
— with reporting by Mary Green