New Photo Book Captures Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher on Cusp of Stardom

Sandra Sobieraj Westfall
·3-min read

Camilla McGrath Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford at Camilla McGrath's NYC apartment in 1977, the week Star Wars opened

Carrie Fisher was worried Star Wars would make her a Hollywood laughingstock before the movie opened in the summer of 1977.

The actress, just 20 years old and living with roommate Griffin Dunne in a New York City apartment at the time, would report back to him from the set: "She'd be in London, waking me up. She said, 'You will not believe how bad this movie is. I run around with a ray gun and I'm followed by a big ape and there's a blue screen behind us and it's really going to stink,'" Dunne recalls in an interview with PEOPLE about the new photo book Face to Face.

"She'd be in London, waking me up. She goes, 'Star Wars.' I said, 'Is that one word?' She goes, 'No, no. It's Star and then Wars.' She thought it would be such a turkey."

Dunne, an actor and director (his aunt is writer Joan Didion; his father, the late author Dominick), was then waiting tables at all-you-can-eat Beefsteak Charlie's waiting for his own big break in showbiz. He features in Face to Face, a stunning collection of candid celebrity photos by the late Camilla McGrath, an Italian aristocrat whose American husband Earl was a music producer and art gallerist. The book includes an essay by Dunne about growing up in the McGraths' orbit and being welcomed at their unpretentious but star-packed parties.

The book is drawn from the more than 60,000 photos that Camilla, a nonprofessional photographer who died in 2007 at the age of 81, left in meticulously documented photo albums.

Dunne recalls for PEOPLE the very casual June 1977 party Camilla and Earl threw at their apartment on New York's West 57th Street for Fisher, Marc Hamill and Harrison Ford the same week that Star Wars opened in theaters. (Dunne also recalled how he first knew Ford as the carpenter who built the deck at his aunt Joan's house.)

"They were all very much on equal footing," Dunne says of Fisher, Hamill and Ford. "Harrison was the funniest guy in the room, sort of the most intimidating, and definitely the adult. They were a trio who were very aware they were on a wave of something huge and just riding."

Camilla McGrath From left: Griffin Dunne, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher at the McGrath home, June 30, 1977.

"What's nice about the pictures from that night is that they show the very, very beginning of that ride—the first week of that ride. To see the look on Carrie's face, like, 'This is so much fun. I can't believe this is happening. This is that movie I said would be such a turkey.' I'm touched now, and kind of saddened," says Dunne.

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"Suddenly, Carrie was riding around in limousines that the movie studio provided and I was tagging along. And then her life went off the rails in terms of fame and I was still at Beefsteak Charlie's."

Dunne fondly recalled Fisher, who died in December 2016 of sudden cardiac arrest, matching wits with Ford, who was at the McGraths' apartment that night with his then-wife Mary.

Camilla McGrath Harrison Ford and his wife Mary Marquardt at the McGraths' Star Wars party, June 30, 1977

In her 2016 memoir, The Princess Diarist, Fisher belatedly revealed that she and co-star Ford had an affair while filming Star Wars. But Dunne was none the wiser about his roommate back in the day.

"The only thing you noticed between Harrison and Carrie was that they were really funny together. I mean, so quick-witted," says Dunne. "And Harrison and Carrie could match each other for wit and one-liners and absurd observations and wordplay. They had a very easy rapport."

For more of McGrath's photos in Face to Face, pick up a copy of the new issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.