Bright Lights: 15 Surprises in the Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher Documentary
Missed Bright Lights, the Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds HBO documentary? Here are 15 of its more fascinating facts
Bright Lights, the documentary about Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds that debuted on HBO shortly after their tragic deaths, was filled with major revelations about the life of the Hollywood icons — but some of its best moments and most memorable lines came by far quicker.
Fisher and Reynolds will be remembered at a public tribute on March 25 at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles, where fans will be able to attend and pay their respects to the iconic actresses.
Here are 15 of the most-surprising moments in directors Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens’ superb documentary.
1. Reynolds and Fisher were so in sync, they even wore the same shoes in one scene. The sandals were different colors, for what it’s worth.
2. Fisher’s home with Reynolds was built by Robert Armstrong, who was in King Kong. The two lived there for 20 years, separated by “one daunting hill.” While Reynolds preferred a more traditionally designed home, Fisher’s taste was far more eclectic: a player piano in the bathroom; paintings of ugly children on her wall; even a Princess Leia sex doll in her hallway. “My house, I love it,” she said. “It’s like scavenger hunting.”
3. Reynolds used a flip phone — which Fisher often teased her about. “I don’t want to buy a new one,” Reynolds said in response. “The old phone works fine. Just dandy.”
4. Fisher and her brother Todd were very different. “We didn’t grow up with each other, we grew up around each other,” she explained. “Like trees… we weren’t made with each other in mind.” She admitted to being jealous of Todd. “It was simpler for him for some reason,” she said.
5. Reynolds didn’t want Fisher to curse in the 1975 film Shampoo. The scene in question was when Fisher’s character asked Warren Beatty’s character if he wanted to “f—.” Reynolds demanded the line be changed to “screw.” Beatty convinced Reynolds to keep it as written.
6. Fisher lost her virginity to actor and friend Griffin Dunne — though the two were not dating at the time, nor did they ever pursue a romantic relationship. “He relieved me of the burden of my hymen,” Fisher joked, as the two reminisced about the moment. “That’s what a real friends does,” he responded. “They always say sex can ruin a friendship, but we were young enough that it didn’t.”
7. Reynolds struggled giving up her Hollywood memorabilia collection until the very end. Reynolds had the world’s largest collection of Hollywood memorabilia that she hoped to one day put into a museum. But she could never find anyone as passionate about the project as she was and ended up selling off her collection in auction. It was hard for Reynolds. “I love having my ghosts and I love having my memories,” she said. “It’s like you have a friend forever. It makes me smile when I even say their names.” At the third and final auction — shown in Bright Lights — Reynolds tries to keep the famed Rat Pack suits, claiming she had a dream they needed to remain with her. It’s not shown, but they’re eventually sold.
8. Fisher was on a diet leading up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens — monitored closely by Lucasfilm. According to Fisher, her personal trainer gave George Lucas’ studio annual reports on her weight-loss progress. They even required measurements. “It’s intense,” Fisher said. “But I’ve learned to love it.”
9. Reynolds was incredibly touched by her Screen Actors Guild life achievement win. While she admitted to being “nervous” throughout most of the evening, Reynolds got sentimental when reflecting on the honor later that night. “I can’t be funny about tonight,” she told Fisher, who was trying to crack jokes about the evening. “It’s too special. You don’t get a chance to have a moment like this very often.”
10. Fisher loved to drink Coca-Cola, just like her father. It was a habit that annoyed her physical trainer, but throughout Bright Lights, Fisher seemed to always have one thing in her hand: a can of Coca-Cola. The love for Coke clearly ran in her blood. Her father, Eddie Fisher, had an exclusive contract with the soda company — and was called “The Coca-Cola Kid.”
11. Reynolds only got nervous once in her career — performing with Bob Hope for the Queen of England in London. “The crown — the jewels kind of threw me a little bit,” she joked. “But I don’t get nervous. I just have a good time.”
12. Fisher was still friends with her childhood babysitter, Constance Freiberg. The two lived two doors away from one another when Reynolds was married to Eddie Fisher. “Carrie at two was more interesting than anyone I’d ever known,” Freiberg said. “Todd was a very happy child, very easy going. [Carrie was] very different. My mom did say about her, ‘That’s a sad child.’ And that was after the divorce. She had this sadness.”
13. Reynolds gave amazing advice about perseverance. Bright Lights’ most inspiring quote came from Reynolds, as she made her way to her farewell Vegas performance. “The only way to make it through life is to fight,” she said. “You don’t get there the easy way. If you feel sorry for yourself and you let yourself go down, you will drown.”
14. Fisher and her father repaired their relationship towards the end of his life. In a scene filmed in 2010 just a few months before the singer died, Fisher went to visit her father — who had a previously admitted his regret choosing his love of drugs over his love of his children. “My father, the way I had a relationship with him really is I became his parent,” Fisher said. “And that’s the way to have the relationship. So I got to know him as there was less of him to know.”
15. Harry Karl wanted Reynolds’ kids to call him “Daddy Harry.” They didn’t.