Transcript for 'Bright Lights' Director on Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds Sharing Their Lives
"Star wars" actress Carrie fisher was known for revealing the most personal aspects of her life. Her mother Debbie Reynolds was much more private which is what makes witnessing the mother/daughter duo's loving relationship behind the scenes such a treat. Here's my "Nightline" coanchor juju Chang. Reporter: It was the ultimate mother/daughter Hollywood moment. I am proud to present the screen actors guild life achievement award to my mother! Reporter: Carrie fisher presenting her mother, Debbie Reynolds, with one of their industry's highest honors. I want to thank the screen actors guild for awarding me with this tonight. It's very unexpected. Reporter: On stage she was still a pro, a true Hollywood icon. Thank you all very much for this wonderful award. Here, mom. Reporter: Behind the scenes, age was catching up to the legendary Reynolds. Don't look like you're holding me up, it's okay. I'm really not. We should look like we're walking and talking happily. Reporter: Private moments captured in the HBO documentary "Bright lights" chronicling the complicated relationship between the famous mother and daughter who grew inseparable right up until their back-to-back deaths in December. You don't get a chance to have a moment like this very often. Not like any mom would. It's its own special moment. Reporter: The documentary shot over two years by directors fisher-stevens and Alexis bloom. Why on Earth would they want to open their lives up like this? They didn't. Carrie did. What did she want out of this? I think she wanted the world to see her mom. And appreciate her mom. Before she retired. Reporter: The film criterion directlied Debbie's physical decline as the 85-year-old began to falter. I fainted. Reporter: Even appearing on camera bruised after a fall at home. The movie wasn't supposed to be about Debbie getting more and more ill and Carrie worrying about her. That was just an unexpected turn of events. When we started filming, Debbie was fine. Reporter: You also watch Carrie begin to realize her larger than life mother is becoming quite frail in front of our eyes. The mother/daughter duo represented opposite ends of Hollywood. Debbie was old school, dancing her way to stardom at age 19 in "Singing in the rain." She was the consummate mgm studio pro. Nominated for an Oscar in 1965 for "The unsinkable Molly brown." I'm unsinkable! One of the things that really blew Lexie and my mind was Debbie's 80-year-old work ethic continued. I'm an actor basically first and foremost. And I was so inspired watching Debbie ready to go on and continue and her performance. Somebody had to save our skins. Reporter: Debbie's daughter Carrie was also just 19 when she helped turn a sci-fi princess from "Star wars" into a cultural icon. Help me, obi-wan kenobi, you're my only hope. If you interviewed Debbie, she's very proper. We see her, how's my hair? Carrie during "Star wars," she would just be like, okay, let's go. That was Carrie. But -- I think that was what was so amazing about Carrie. She was unfiltered. And almost -- I think incapable of kind of telling lies. Which made her an incredible subject for a documentary. Reporter: Chain smoking and constantly sipping Coca-Cola, Carrie complains bitterly about the diet and fitness regimen she's on. After your exercise class, what you need to do is smoke a cigarette. Reporter: Training for her triumphant return, from a princess to a general in "Force awakens." Cementing the adulation of yet another generation of "Star wars" fans who love rooting for a warrior princess turned rebel commander. You changed your hair. She loved people. She loved her fans. She knew that her fans were the reason that she could do what she wanted to do. She truly did. She would spend time with these people. Beyond what she needed to? Totally. Reporter: Rebellious by nature and famously outspoken, Carrie shared her struggled with smug and alcohol abuse and polar disease in over HBO dumentary "Wishful drinking." I was invited to go to a medical hospital. Well, you don't want to be rude, right? So you go. Reporter: Their relationship was often deeply strained over the years. Which is why their reconciliation and closeness meant so much to both of them. What makes their relationship so amazing? They had been through everything. They loved each other. They were each other's best friends. Reporter: When Carrie went into cardiac arrest her half sisters, Jolie and Tricia Lee fisher, watched Debbie Reynolds sit vigil at her daughter's bedside. I knew that if Carrie wasn't going to survive this, that Debbie would not. You knew it. You could feel it. You could feel it. She would not last without her on the planet. Reporter: Carrie's brother Todd equally devoted to their mother's legacy was there for her final moments. She didn't die from a broken heart, she just left to be with Carrie. She expressed how much she loved my sister. She then said that she really wanted to be with Carrie. And within 15 minutes from that conversation, she faded out. And within 30 minutes, she technically was gone. And I watched her leave and go to Carrie. Reporter: Todd quoted his mother as saying the last thing she said was, I want to be with Carrie. Did that make sense to you? Look when she chose to go. Debbie was strong. And she just said, okay. I'm ready. You know? Carrie's not here. What does it say about Debbie Reynolds that she had these two children so devoted to her? Debbie Reynolds was amazing. "Bright lights" gained critical acclaim at film festivals, Cannes, telluride, New York. She really loved the film. She thanked us many times. At the end the New York film festiv festival. "Thank you, so glad we made this, so glad we did this." Reporter: It was slated to premiere on HBO in March but that all changed last month. All I know is Debbie had been really ill. She kept bouncing back. And this was probably the last. Okay, I'm ready. Reporter: For "Nightline" I'm
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