Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds Documentary 'Bright Lights' Premieres on HBO

PHOTO: Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds perform in an undated photo from the Fisher family archives.PlayFisher Family Archives/Courtesy HBO
WATCH 'Bright Lights' Director on Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds Sharing Their Lives

The documentary "Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds," made a splash last year at the Cannes Film Festival and was meant to air for the first time on television this March.

However, after the deaths of Fisher and Reynolds last Dec. 27 and 28, respectively, HBO moved up the TV premiere date to Jan. 7.

Directed by Fisher Stevens and Alexis Bloom, "Bright Lights" was made at the behest of Fisher, who wanted to document her octogenarian mother's continued professional ambition.

"She wanted the world to see how incredible her mother was," Bloom told the Los Angeles Times.

According to the Times, production on the film, which featured many shots of the Los Angeles-area compound where the pair lived next door to each other, began in April 2014 and wrapped nine months later.

A few takeaways are below.

1. Home videos are used throughout: Stevens and Bloom used many home movies featuring Fisher, her younger brother, Todd, and Reynolds. "You knew I was going to doubt it later, so you filmed me being happy," Fisher joked of the footage. "You did have ... good times," Reynolds answered. Among the scenes featured in the movies: the Fisher children wearing leis on vacation and a young Carrie singing in her mother's act as a teenager. "The biggest thing I did that broke my mother's heart was not do a nightclub act," she said. Almost proving her daughter's point, Reynolds teared up while taking in the performance. "I love that voice," she said. "Isn't that a great voice? I wish I had it."

2. Viewers are treated to a tour of the stars' homes: Fisher's house features a collection of kitschy odds and ends and the film is punctuated with close-ups on a few of her most curious knickknacks. From a Princess Leia sex doll to an alligator statue affixed to her bedroom wall, it's tempting to pause every frame inside Fisher's home just to get a better glimpse at what's inside. The "Star Wars" actress explained that her house is the opposite of the one she grew up in: "We grew up around each other, you know, like trees."

"It was a prototype life. We were getting ready for a photo shoot all the time," she continued. "Todd and I had a shared history of weirdness.”

And though Reynolds' home is not quite as eccentrically decorated, it's filled with plenty of treasures, too. In addition to eye-catching family photos, she also showed off a caftan from Elizabeth Taylor and Judy Garland's ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz."

3. Much is said about Reynolds' career: "Bright Lights" features a deep look into Reynolds' decades-long career in Hollywood, including an interview with her mother, who admitted she didn't understand her daughter's drive to be an actress. (She would have preferred that Reynolds become a gym teacher.) However, Fisher noted that "performing gives her life," which made aging even more difficult for Reynolds to stomach. "It's very frustrating for her because inside my mom is the same person [she always was] and she doesn't want to retire," Fisher said.

4. Fisher's acting career was more accidental: Though Fisher said her mother groomed her for a career in show business, she did not aspire to be an actress. In fact, she claimed she only made her first film, "Shampoo," because "I was hanging around a set." Fame quickly followed. "'Star Wars' came out when I was 20, I met [her now ex-husband] Paul [Simon] the next year and boom!" she said. "It was all a surprise. It all happened very fast and very soon."

Ultimately, she embraced her fame, and at the time of filming, attended a fan convention, where she signed autographs and posed for photos. She did have her limits, however. Though she said the studio sent a trainer to her home to ensure she stayed in good shape for "Star Wars: Episode VII," she refused to stop stocking her fridge with Coca-Cola.

5. Fisher and Reynolds' closeness is apparent throughout: Fisher described herself as "an extension" of her mother, and Reynolds admitted, "I share everything with my daughter." While Fisher was preparing to go to London to film "Episode VII," she said that she was anxious about leaving Reynolds home in California. "I'm concerned because my mother is not feeling well. But I'm trying to let go," she told the camera. "I should be trying to let go of my daughter instead of trying to let go of my mom. So everything is backward."

In one especially emotional scene, Fisher attended a meeting shortly before her mother was expected to take the stage at the 2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards. After explaining to event organizers that Reynolds hadn't been feeling well, Fisher was overcome with emotion. "Everything in me demands that my mother be as she always was," Fisher said at one point. "She just can't change. That's the rule."

6. Fisher's mental health is discussed with frankness: As she was throughout her adult life, Fisher was very open about her bipolar disorder in the film, explaining the difference between her manic personality (which she dubbed "Roy") and her depressive one ("Pam"). "You know what would be so cool?" she asked at one point. "To get to the end of my personality." "It's a constant battle that takes all of us to assure her that she’s loved," Reynolds said. Beginning to cry, she added, "That's the hardest part."

7. Carrie Fisher developed a relationship with her father later in life: Eddie Fisher famously left Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor when their two children were young, and by his own admission, was not very involved in their lives. However, "Bright Lights" features footage of Carrie Fisher spending time with her father just months before he died in 2010. "I became his parent and that was the way to have the relationship," she explained to a friend. "I got to know him as there was less of him to know."

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