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The Mentalist

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(Photo: Tierney Gearon)
Hair and makeup by Lucy Halperin for Nars at MargaretMaldonado.com.  

Fisher leans over in her seat. “It’s funny,” she growls.

What’s most interesting about Fisher, and, by extension, her show, is not what she has to say about addiction, which there are many people qualified to discuss, or even mental illness. She is, largely, vague on these topics. She doesn’t describe the low points of her disease, how it felt to be manic or how it felt to be addicted. What she does describe, in great detail, is just how super-weird it is to be herself. And how it feels to be Princess Leia, because that’s incredibly weird, too.

For Fisher, Hollywood was not the shimmering city on the hill reached by bus from midwestern obscurity. It’s a default setting. It’s home. Nor has the place permanently soured her on her childhood. She likes her parents, even her disinterested and disengaged pothead father, whom she supports in an assisted-living facility in San Francisco. (“There’s a really big Chinatown there,” she explains. Eddie Fisher’s taste in women post–Elizabeth Taylor tended in that direction.) She lives next door to her mother. Fisher’s whole vocabulary is one of fame. Ask her if her brother is still a born-again Christian (which is how she describes him in her book) and she says, “Well, I fixed him up with Beverly D’Angelo, and you can’t be born-again and date Beverly.” Ask her about her early New York years, and you’ll learn that her roommates were Griffin Dunne and Teri Garr. Her former assistant drops by to show off her new baby; Chad Lowe is the dad.

“My shrink said if you worked in a supermarket they would’ve institutionalized you at 20. But because I come from Hollywood there’s so much that’s considered okay. You’re just allowed to do anything and you’re supposed to be unusual and so much is tolerated that probably shouldn’t be. I was so fun! I had such a great personality! Cut to: I’m stoned on the floor. Cut to: Uh-oh.”

In a way, Fisher is the Proust of celebrity-revelation culture; her musings operate on a higher plane than Courtney Love’s tweets or Kanye West’s blog posts. Even “Blow my big bovine tiny dancer cock” has a kind of poetry to it. As such, she’s perhaps entitled to feel a little depressed by what celebrity has become. Like many others, she can’t quite believe that Kate and Jon (whom she calls “Kate and Allie”) and their eight children are what now show up on the cover of People magazine, but coming from her, the observation seems freshly poignant somehow. She always knew this day would arrive. “When I was just becoming conscious—around 13—is when my parents’ careers began to fade,” she tells me. “And I saw what it did to them. Celebrity is just obscurity biding its time.”

And this is why, she says, that she’s still holding some things back. When I mention that we never get the full story of her illness or addiction, she responds, “If you feel there’s some part of me you’re not getting, then that means that something’s sacred.”

A great deal of it, though, is just for her next book. Which she’s already begun to write.


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