Mark Hamill is paying tribute to a rebel, princess, senator, general and life-long friend Friday at Star Wars Celebration.
His panel honoring Carrie Fisher, who died Dec. 27, was a reminder of both how Star Wars has lost such an important member of its family, as well as what Star Wars itself means to families around the world. Ten audience members got "the best seats in the house" - those on stage, and among them were a few fans dressed as Leia and one young girl who was actually named for the iconic character.
Hamill, who described the pair having a sibling like friendship, recalls meeting her for the first time in London ahead of shooting together for the first Star Wars.
"I was just bowled over by her humor and her whit, how sardonic she was. How dark she was. Within 20 minutes, she was telling me personal stories about her mother and father that I wouldn't' have shared with you if I'd known you ten years," said Hamill.
The star admitted there was an early attraction there.
"As attracted as I was to her, I thought, 'I couldn't handle her as a girlfriend.' She's too much. She's what you would call a high-maintenance relationship," said Hamill with a laugh.
He went on to discuss the dangers of dating someone with whom you work in show business.
"Sometimes, you know, we sort of wanted to go in that direction. On the pretext of talking about kissing techniques. 'Oh, I'm a pretty good kisser, you know.' 'Oh, I think I'm a better kisser.' Cut to us making out of the text like a couple of horny teenagers," Hamill said. "I'll tell you what really cooled it was the fact that at some point we both started laughing. Believe me …. It kills your passion if someone's laughing in your face. But I thought 'we dodged a bullet there,' because we had the fun without any of the responsibility."
Once when visiting New York, Fisher refused to let Hamill stay in a hotel, insisting that she come stay at her house. Things changed a lot by Empire Strike Back … Fisher had a boy friend, Hamill had a baby on the way. While filming the speeder bike chase in Return of the Jedi, Carrie would pull out volumes of Philosophy… Nietzsche, Kierkegaard … but in her trailer, she would have tabloid magazines. Hamill would poke fun at her, asking why she wouldn't read that in front of the crew, to which she retorted, "Because I want people to think I'm smart."
Hamill also shared how he remembers her on a daily basis.
"Today is a day where it would be very easy to be consumed with grief. Let me tell you, when go to sleep at night there's never a day so far where I don't think of her. And 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 that Fisher said what her plans were if her co-star were the first to pass away: "If you go first, I'll heckle your funeral," and she asked that he'd do the same for her. (He didn't, for the record.)
After showing off a tribute video that debuted a moving tribute video Thursday, Hamill also choked up as he read from a statement he wrote shortly after Fisher's death.
"She was OUR Princess, damn it, & the actress who played her blurred into one gorgeous, fiercely independent & ferociously funny, take-charge woman who took our collective breath away," Hamill read.
In another particularly emotional moment, Hamill read lines from The Kings' "Celluloid Heroes": "I wish my life was non-stop Hollywood movie show A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain And celluloid heroes never really die."
Hamill welcomed Warwick Davis on stage to talk about how Fisher had acted as a surrogate mother on him when he joined the franchise at just age 11 in Return of the Jedi.
At the end, Hamill thanked fans for helping him through the loss of Fisher.
"This is part of the process I need to move on. I tried very hard, but we lost Kenny Baker [R2-D2] and Carrie in such a close period of time. But she loved you and I certainly love you and I need your support and we all need each other's support to make sure that we honor her legacy ... and I'm thinking of one last quote for you and that is 'as long as we live, so too she shall live, because she has become a part of us all and we'll never stop missing her,' " Hamill said, choking up.
Hamill's tribute comes after George Lucas, Kathleen Kennedy, and Fisher's daughter Billie Lourd shared their own tributes during Thursday's opening day panel. Earlier Friday, The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson also spoke about connecting with Fisher as a writer, and the hours they would spend working out dialogue together. Lucasfilm also debuted a moving tribute video Thursday. Hamill previously penned an essay for The Hollywood Reporter, where he remembered his time with Fisher.