How ‘Catastrophe’ Pays Tribute to Carrie Fisher in the Series Finale (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe
When Catastrophe returns to Amazon for season four on Friday, it will mark the end the series as well as pay tribute to Carrie Fisher, the late-actress who appeared opposite creators and stars Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney as the actor’s outspoken mother Mia.
Soon after she finished filming season three in London, Fisher went into cardiac arrest on Dec. 23, 2016, on a flight back to Los Angeles. The night before her departure, she had dinner with Horgan, who recalled to the Associated Press at the time, “she had been at the antique market earlier that day and she was showing me all these lovely little bits and pieces that she bought for her mom [Debbie Reynolds] to bring back.” Fisher died four days later, on Dec. 27, at the age of 60.
While sitting next to Horgan in a suite at the Crosby Hotel in New York City earlier this week, Delaney recalls the “weird” feeling around her unexpected death. “Carrie Fisher, in real life, died a few days after we wrapped the third season, where she had been [filming] Sharon’s father’s funeral,” he says. “So, we knew of course that we would have to address it.”
“We felt like our last series turned out to be a love letter to her,” Horgan previously told ET in the spring of 2018, shortly after she and Delaney finished writing the fourth season during the first fourth months of that year, and were still set to shoot the final episodes in June. “We’re hoping that we can pay homage to her in the best possible way. We’re trying to do her proud in this series.”
Back in the hotel room, Delaney continues by saying Fisher is larger than the show. “She’s about as famous as one can be and so everybody knew she was dead and everybody mourned her, so it wasn’t going to be a surprise that she died.”
On the series finale, Rob (Delaney) and Sharon (Horgan) make a surprise trip to America to visit his family in Boston, only to learn from Rob’s sister Sydney (Michaela Watkins) that Mia is dead. “It’s a massive loss that sends shockwaves through their lives, so we had to do it,” Delaney says. “And it did provide an organic ending for the whole series.”
How the two central characters deal with it -- “Sharon’s selfishness and the epiphany it gives Rob,” Horgan says -- sets the course for the rest of the finale. “It was tricky to give justice to each moment,” she adds.
In the end, Horgan and Delaney pay tribute to Fisher the best way knew how: by letting her character speak for her herself. “Getting to say goodbye to Carrie in the eulogies felt like such a great opportunity to say all those great things that she might have liked to say herself,” Horgan says of the heartfelt yet supervisely funny funeral scene that unfolds on screen.
Standing on the beach, with Fisher’s photo perched on an easel, Rob reads aloud an email Mia sent to a friend just before she died:
“I heard about these babies, their spines are like corkscrews. But once they have these surgeries it’s beautiful. They can play hockey or rollerblade. I mean, I wouldn’t have to do it at all if this government gave a rat’s ass about disabled kids. They’d be happy to just throw them out a window. I bet Mike Pence spends his Sundays throwing disabled kids out of windows. Looks like he would that f***ing microwaved apple-looking a** motherf***er.”
“We just tried to relax and think about Carrie and imagine what she might have said as that character,” Delaney says, explaining that over the course of the series they “got to watch her write as well.”
“It was just a real sweet little tribute to a really sweet woman, but also, I think politically, she would have really enjoyed to say that Mike Pence throws disabled kids out of windows,” Horgan says with a light chuckle.