Carrie Fisher-Debbie Reynolds Documentarians: "When You Put a Camera on Carrie, She's Wired for Truth"
Meanwhile, Fisher Stevens and his partner Alexis Bloom tell THR that Reynolds wasn't quite sure what to do when filming 'Bright Lights': "She literally asked for lines. 'What should I say?' Ultimately, she was doing it for Carrie, and Carrie was doing it for Debbie."
Actor turned documentarian Fisher Stevens and his partner Alexis Bloom use the present tense when they speak about Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, the subjects of their new film, Bright Lights, which debuts Jan. 7 on HBO. "When you put a camera on Carrie, she's wired for truth. It's part of her DNA," Bloom says of capturing their singular mother-daughter relationship onscreen. "Her mother is wired for dignity above all else, from her training at MGM. She reserves her private face for her family and close friends, and that was the challenge."
Introduced to Fisher by a mutual friend, Stevens and Bloom were sitting around one day in 2014 when Fisher began talking about how she couldn't believe her mother still was performing: At 82 and ever the trouper, Reynolds had booked dates at casinos in Connecticut and Las Vegas. "Somebody should be filming her," she added.
At first, Reynolds wasn't quite sure what the filmmakers were looking for. "She didn't understand the concept of a documentary," Stevens recounts. "She literally asked for lines. 'What should I say?' Ultimately, she was doing it for Carrie, and Carrie was doing it for Debbie." And while Carrie was at ease when Bloom and Stevens first interviewed her, "when she realized we were getting deeper and deeper, you could feel her getting less and less comfortable," Stevens adds.
When the film was finished, Reynolds, whose health had taken a turn for the worst, watched it at home with her family and enjoyed the clips from her old movies and performances, but when Fisher first viewed the final results, she found it difficult. "It's a very intimate film, and she watched it and cried, and we had lots of talks and hand-holding," says Bloom. But Fisher came to love the film, traveling with it to such festivals as Cannes, Telluride and New York. "It was a tribute to her mother in her mind," says Stevens. "And it was a nice moment for her where she didn't have to be Princess Leia, but could be herself."
This story first appeared in the Jan. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.