Carrie Fisher led a tumultuous life, battling drug addiction, crazed fans, broken relationships and mental health problems, but the two constants in her final years were her daughter Billie and her dog Gary.
Although unlucky in love, Fisher had a loyal and constant companion in Billie, 24, her child with ex-boyfriend Bryan Lourd, a prominent Hollywood agent.
And when Billie wasn’t around, Fisher had her four-year-old French bulldog Gary, who was with her when she suffered a massive heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles on December 23.
Following her sudden death at the age of 60 in a Los Angeles hospital, the beloved actress has left Billie, Gary and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, to come to terms with their immense loss.
Of Billie, Fisher always spoke incredibly highly.
“Have I been a disappointment to her at times? Oh yeah,” Fisher said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight.
“But she’s fluent in Carrie speak and that’s not a very easy dialect.”
‘Your father’s gay, your mother’s a drug addict’
Despite Fisher’s battles with mental health issues and drug abuse, she worked to provide a solid upbringing for Billie, ensuring she was never too far from her father and keeping her out of the spotlight until her late teens.
“My daughter is exceptional, she’s more stable than my mother or me,” Fisher told the Daily Mail in 2004.
Although Fisher’s relationship with Billie’s father was complicated – she and Lourd dated for three years before he left her for a man – the pair maintained a friendship.
“[Billie] also has the luxury of knowing that both her parents love her and that they get along, which I didn’t have,” Fisher said.
“One day she told me she wanted to be a comic when she grew up. I said: ‘You have plenty of material. Your father’s gay, your mother is a drug addict and manic depressive, your grandmother tap-dances for a living and your grandfather took speed’.”
A photo posted by Billie Lourd (@praisethelourd) on
Billie has equally high praise for her mother, fondly calling her a “loveable whack job” during a Today Show interview this year.
A year ago, Billie paid the ultimate tribute to her mother by beginning to pursue a career in acting.
“I’m always proud of my mother, she’s killing it right now,” Billie told People magazine this year. “She’s incredible.”
Forging her own path
When aspiring actress Billie set foot on her first film set, it was alongside her mother in the 2015 Star Wars blockbuster The Force Awakens.
However, Billie was not looking to ride on her mother’s coat-tails, and worked to keep her identity a secret from the cast and crew.
“No one knew. I went everywhere with the extras, I didn’t want to ride with my mum, wouldn’t talk to my mum on set, wouldn’t call her mum – I’d call her Carrie,” Lourd said on the US Today Show this year.
“One day she had a cold or something and was in a bad mood and I went over and said, ‘Mum, it’s going to be okay’, and all the extras were like, ‘That’s your mom?'”
Billie followed up her Star Wars role – in which she rocked her mother’s iconic “double bun” hairdo – with a permanent role on US comedy-horror series Scream Queens.
Her mother was fiercely proud of Billie’s performance on the show, regularly tweeting her praise.
What's happening twitter asks? My daughter Billie Lourd from Scream Queens.She's MUCH more than my kid.Witty & pretty,I aspire 2 deserve her pic.twitter.com/oRietTuci3
— Carrie Fisher (@carrieffisher) October 15, 2016
However, Billie joked she couldn’t escape her mother’s shadow – her character in Scream Queens wears earmuffs reminiscent of Leia’s buns.
“I try to do my own thing but when I’m wearing something like [these earmuffs] it’s hard to escape the comparison,” Billie said.
“I was drawn to it because of genetics I think. No one wanted to wear them … but I saw them and immediately said, ‘I need these, this is my destiny’.”
‘Gary is my heart’
As well as being her mother’s pride and joy, Billie was also responsible for bringing another important figure into Fisher’s life: her dog, Gary.
“He was mine first and she actually stole him from me because she fell in love with him,” Billie said on the Today Show.
“She lets him lick her and that’s scary to me because … that tongue gets around.”
Indeed, Gary became something of a social media star during Fisher’s press tour for a A Force Awakens, accompanying Fisher to interviews and screenings and sitting patiently with his pink tongue flopping out of his mouth.
Fisher even took Gary as her date to red carpet events, happily posing for photos with him, kissing and hugging him – much to the delight of Gary’s 76,000 Instagram followers.
A photo posted by Gary Fisher (@garyfisher) on
But Fisher’s relationship with Gary ran deeper than merely puppy love – he helped her manage her bipolar disorder.
“Gary is like my heart,” she told the Herald-Tribune.
“Gary is very devoted to me, and that calms me down. He’s anxious when he’s away from me.”
No doubt Gary will have a hard time adjusting to the loss of his unforgettable owner, as will the rest of the world.
— Carrie Fisher's Dog (@Gary_TheDog) December 28, 2016