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Paul Simon says his marriage to Carrie Fisher was ‘mistakes on top of mistakes’

Paul Simon has opened up about his whirlwind marriage to Carrie Fisher, which lasted just one year.

The legendary Simon and Garfunkel musician, 82, reflected on his life and career in a new MGM+ documentary, In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon. Archival interviews in the documentary showed Simon speaking candidly about his brief union with Fisher, who had risen to fame for her role as Princess Leia in the 1977 film Star Wars.

However, according to Simon, Fisher’s shot to stardom exposed a fundamental difference in their characters.

“Carrie was much more show business oriented,” he says in the documentary, according to Vanity Fair. “I went along with that – that’s the world that she grew up with; she was used to it. She was used to a lot of press and things like that. It wasn’t intimidating or anything. She knew how to manipulate it and make it work for her. She was really good at it, and I wasn’t.”

The A-list couple met in 1978 through actor Shelley Duvall, whom Simon had dated for two years prior. Simon and Fisher reunited later that year when she was hosting an episode of Saturday Night Live; the “Sound of Silence” singer is close friends with SNL creator Lorne Michaels.

In fact, Michaels is seen in the documentary describing the former couple’s engagement and subsequent honeymoon, and he was present for both. “For the engagement, we went to Greece. Paul chartered a boat. I was seasick for three days – at the rail praying for death,” recalled Michaels, who also served as Simon’s best man at the wedding. “Other than that, it was a really fun time, and for the honeymoon, we went up to Egypt, went up the Nile.”

Simon and Fisher married in 1983, in the midst of the singer’s reunion tour with Art Garfunkel, but they divorced just one year later, in July 1984. In an interview shown in the documentary, Simon admitted he felt “exhausted” by the time they split.

“I mean, what was I thinking? Certainly not thinking about life, you know, that you actually like have to stop," he said. "Marriage is very… it’s a hard thing to do. You have to concentrate on – not everything can happen at once, not everything is a media event. All types of mistakes on top of mistakes on top of mistakes.”

“I realised I could become exhausted by – I could exhaust myself from emotional upheaval,” Simon added.

Despite their divorce, the actor and singer continued to date on-and-off for more than a decade. Fisher, who died in 2016, recalled their final trip together in her 2008 memoir, Wishful Drinking. “Then we dated again. We were together for more than 12 years (off and on) and we travelled a lot. The last place we went to was the Amazon, which I recommend if you like mosquitoes,” she jokingly wrote.

The When Harry Met Sally star later admitted that their marriage was the “wrong thing to do,” adding: “Poor Paul. He had to put up with a lot with me.”

Much like many musicians, however, their rollercoaster relationship inspired some of Simon’s greatest hits. Fisher revealed in her memoir that Simon’s songs “She Moves On” and “Hearts and Bones” were both inspired by her.

After their separation, Simon went on to marry singer Edie Brickell in 1992. The couple are still married today, and share three children together: Adrian Edward, 31, Lulu, 29, and Gabriel Elijah, 25. Meanwhile, Fisher welcomed daughter Billie Lourd, 31, with talent agent Bryan Lourd.

Following Fisher’s death, Simon paid tribute to the actor on social media. In a post shared to X, formerly Twitter, he wrote: “Yesterday was a horrible day. Carrie was a special, wonderful girl. It’s too soon.”