The late Carrie Fisher will have a more prominent role in series three of Catastrophe, according to the hit comedy’s creators.
Sharon Horgan, the co-creator and star of the cult sitcom, says that Fisher’s part in the third season of Catastrophe will be “bigger [and] chunkier” than audiences have seen before.
Fisher had just finished filming her scenes for Catastrophe when she had a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles on 23 December. She died four days later, at the age of just 60.
The iconic actor was best-known for her role as Leia Organa in the Star Wars movies, as well as for being a brilliantly acerbic writer and an advocate for mental health awareness. She had a recurring guest role in Catastrophe as Mia, the vile, eBay-obsessed mother of Rob (Rob Delaney), an American man who moves to London after getting teacher Sharon (Sharon Horgan) pregnant.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday night, Horgan said that she and co-creator Delaney had deliberately expanded Fisher’s part in the new series.
“[In] the first series and even the second series, we didn’t have her for very long,” said Horgan. “She flew in and did her bit over a day or two. Of course we wanted to get to know her better; we idolised her. We just didn’t really have a chance to.”
“Then in series three we wrote this bigger, chunkier part for her in episode six and got to spend time with her,” she continued. “She was part of the gang... We feel very privileged and honoured.”
Horgan, who wrote a poignant tribute to Fisher after her death, also shared what it was like working with the late actor – who she described as “the sexiest, funniest woman” – on set. “She was funny all the time,” she said. “She was incredibly witty company and loved saying arsehole-y things to everyone, but also was just a really kind, lovely, supportive person.”
Delaney and Horgan started writing the first series of Catastrophe after connecting on Twitter, and said that they didn’t initially have Fisher in mind when writing the part of Rob’s “awful” mother. The lightbulb moment came after they saw Fisher speak at an awards ceremony.
“Her speech was just amazing,” said Delaney. “We were watching it, and Sharon said, ‘What if she played your mum?’ And I was like, ‘Sharon, you’re crazy!’”
After a failed attempt to get in touch with Fisher over – what else – Twitter, the writing duo sent the script for the first season of Catastrophe to her agent, and she agreed. “Luckily,” said Horgan, “she was in the market for playing awful women.”
Fisher was open about her struggles with alcohol addiction, and it’s a theme that will rear its head in season three of Catastrophe. Rob, a recovering alcoholic, has been on the wagon since the first series – but the new episodes show him begin to start drinking again.
“The great thing about alcoholism is that it only ever gets worse,” joked Horgan, explaining why they had waited until the third season to reintroduce Rob’s alcohol problem. “So we thought the longer we leave it, the more catastrophic the outcome.”
Delaney, a recovering alcoholic himself, said that he and Horgan were motivated by a desire to show marriage in a realistic light.
“Those marriages that you [usually] see in sitcoms… in real life that would end in a murder-suicide,” he said. “Sometimes we inhabit those classic sitcom roles where Rob’s a dolt and [Sharon] is shrewish, but we also have all the other colours in the rainbow, just to make it real.”
Catastrophe’s third season will air on Channel 4 at 10pm on Tuesday 28 February.
Images: Rex Features, Channel 4