This year’s Star Wars Celebration, for all its thrills – including that epic first The Last Jedi trailer – was also inevitably tinged with a sense of grief, being the first to take place since Carrie Fisher’s passing in December of last year.
Though tributes to her were present throughout the weekend, a special panel was staged on Friday that saw Mark Hamill sit down and recall some of his favourite stories and memories of Fisher from their time working together on the Star Wars franchise.
“I’ve been trying to deal with it,” Hamill confessed early on; describing how he’s been working through the various stages of grief since her death. “And just when I’ve gotten to acceptance, I bounce back to anger, because I’m mad. She should be here.”
One of the recurring themes of the various tributes to Fisher at Star Wars Celebration was the idea that Fisher’s personality was absolutely key to Leia’s iconic appeal. It was something Hamill himself added to.
He stated, “She wore this toughness like armour, but down deep there was this vulnerability of a little girl that’s enormously appealing. It made you want her to succeed and it made you want her to be happy.”
“When I go to sleep at night, there’s never a day when I don’t think of her,” he continued. “When I think of her, she’s looking down from the celestial stratosphere with those big brown eyes, that sly smile on her face as she lovingly extends me the middle finger. That’s how I want you to think of her. That was Carrie.”
Indeed, as much as Hamill’s tribute to Fisher was filled with a quiet poignancy at times, as he described the panel as a form of “therapy” for him, it was one also filled with humour. He stressed multiple times that Fisher wouldn’t want to be remembered with tears, but laughter, recalling how she once snipped at him: “I promise you, if you go first, I’ll heckle your funeral.”
Hamill’s panel was filled with anecdotes, including an account of the time he watched her pull out volumes of philosophy by Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, while filming Return of the Jedi, because, “I want people to think I’m smart”. Or the time she forced Hamill to squeeze himself into one of her tiny costumes, wear a clown mask, before grabbing him by the hand and leading him around the studio.
He also described the first time they met and how he was, “bowled over by her humour and her wit. How sardonic she was, how dark she was. Within 20 minutes she was telling me personal stories about her father and mother [Hollywood legends, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher] that I wouldn’t share with you if knew you for ten years.”
He confessed that, like many who crossed paths with Fisher, he found himself quite infatuated with her, though he added: “As attracted as I was to her, I said, I couldn’t handle her as a girlfriend. She’s what you call a high maintenance relationship.
“Sometimes we sort of wanted to go in that direction,” he added, recalling how the pretext of kissing techniques soon turned into “us making out on the couch like a couple of horny teenagers”.
“I’m still not thinking of her in past tense. Certain people have a vitality and an energy so strong that it reverberates beyond their lack of physical presence,” he said, later adding, “The thing that she had about her, is that she made you feel, when you were in her presence, like you were her best friend. It was exhilarating to be around her.”
Expect plenty more Star Wars news as Star Wars Celebration takes place in Orlando from 13 - 16 April.