Mark Hamill was a ball of emotion, flipping back and forth between heartfelt laughs and choking back tears, as he paid a beautiful tribute at Star Wars Celebration to his on-screen twin and lifetime friend, Carrie Fisher.
Fisher, who passed away last December from heart-related issues just days after Christmas, and Hamill played brother and sister in five films: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and 2015’s The Force Awakens, although the two never reunited in the last film. During his tribute, Hamill said that he should have known when they were shooting A New Hope that he and Fisher would be brother and sister considering how their relationship, which was always intimate in one way or another, blossomed off-screen.
Hamill said that they loved each other intensely, but also fought like cats and dogs. The actor recalled one story when they were pulled aside ahead of The Empire Strikes Back to be told they were actually twins. The immediate reaction Fisher had to the news, according to Hamill, perfectly could sum up the actress at times.
“They said Luke and Leia are twins separated at birth,” Hamill said. “And I was stunned. I'm five years older than Carrie. And I said, ‘Well wait a second. If I'm Luke Skywalker, from a moisture farm on Tatooine, and she's Princess Leia, does that make me royalty?’ And without missing a beat, Carrie said, 'No!'”
During the one-hour tribute, Hamill recalled many memories he shared with Fisher, but admitted his favorite moments occurred off-screen when it was just the two of them. Although they never dated, Hamill confessed he did at one point fall in love with he, just like anyone else she worked with or included in her life. Although he could never date her, Hamill said, he wound up doing anything she asked simply because of the spell she had him under.
“Part of me did fall in love with her,” Hamill said. “It's never easy to lose such a vital, irreplaceable member of the family. This is downright heartbreaking. Carrie was a one-of-a-kind who belonged to us all, whether she liked it or not. She was our princess, damn it, and the actress who played her blurred into a fiercely independent, take charge kind of women who took our breath away. Determined and tough, but with a vulnerability that made you root for her and want her to succeed.
“That's what I thought. All the bravado? It was just a defense mechanism. She wore this toughness like armor, but down deep there was this vulnerability of a little girl. That’s how I think of Carrie.”
The tribute also included favorite memories shared from other people within the Star Wars family, including The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, Lucasfilm CEO Kathleen Kennedy and, of course, George Lucas. The director recalled that when he was casting Princess Leia, he knew that he needed to find a young woman who could portray a brilliant, realistically young senator. Fisher, Lucas said, was able to play the role without any hesitation. More importantly though, she made you believe teenagers were far smarter than the adults they tend to be quieted by. The actress, Lucas continued, was crucial to the franchise’s success.
“I believe 19-year-olds are smarter than most people,” Lucas said. “Carrie proved that.”
As Hamill recalled memory after memory, he admitted that a day hasn’t gone by where he doesn’t think of Fisher. One of his favorite ways to remember the actress happens just before he goes to bed. After lying down and closing his eyes, he pictures Fisher — his friend and the princess that he loved dearly — the only way he knows she would want to be remembered.
“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,” Hamill said to the laughter of the audience. “And that's how I want you to think of her.
“That was Carrie.”