In case you were wondering when the sting of Carrie Fisher’s death will no longer fill you with immeasurable sadness, the answer is likely never. But, just a handful of months after the icon passed on, Mark Hamill took the stage at this year’s Star Wars Celebration to pay tribute to his dear friend. And while Hamill certainly wanted to honor the actress’ legacy above all else, he admitted that he had been dreading the experience leading up to the panel, saying he’d come down with what he called “psychosomatic laryngitis” while dealing with the reality of having to get up on stage and admit she’s gone. “I’m still not thinking of her in the past tense,” Hamill admitted, saying that each time he thinks he’s made it through every stage of grief, he circles right back to anger – about how quickly she went, how she shouldn’t be gone, and how we never got to give her a proper goodbye.
Hamill opened the panel by remembering the early days of their friendship, saying that when they were informed that Luke and Leia were in fact siblings, it felt right. “We loved each other, but we would fight, we were judgmental…” a statement that lead him to share an illustrative anecdote: “does that make me royalty?” Luke asked after the familial Star Wars secret was revealed. Without skipping a beat, Fisher cried “No!”
Fans heard the story of how Fisher would pull out volumes of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche in between takes on Star Wars (“so people will think I’m smart!”), and about the time Fisher learned the hard way about Lucas’ “no underwear in space” rule. Then, there was the day on set when Fisher goaded Hamill into donning her space suit, and after he had painstakingly slipped into the skin-tight suit, she grabbed him by the hand and showed him off to the crew. “I was her own personal paper doll… You wanted to please her.”
He remembered the passionate moments – of turning make out sessions into high-stakes competition, but was honest about whether or not their friendship was one that managed to surpass years of mayhem and personal issues. “Any relationship that emotionally passionate burns very brightly, but has to fizzle out.” Still, Hamill said that there hasn’t been a day that’s gone by where he didn’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.”
“We’re using each other as therapy today,” Hamill said, shortly after he struggled through reading his official statement on Fisher’s passing. He praised her as a one of a kind icon of the galaxy, who “made Solo and Skywalker look like chumps,” and one who, regardless of any bumps along the way, was a woman who always made him proud to be her friend.
As is usually the case with Star Wars Celebration, the panel had some special guests – first in the form of Warwick Davis, who revealed candid behind-the-scenes moments between Fisher and the then very young actor, who remembered the times that Fisher would bring him cookies and milk when he got too hot in his suit, and lovingly mess with his hair between takes. Kathleen Kennedy also made an appearance to share about the very last time she saw Fisher, during a trip to her house to show the actress the completed Rogue One ending that included a recreation of Fisher at age 20. After much of the requisite and charming chaos that followed Fisher wherever she went, Fisher signed a copy of her memoir, The Princess Diarist, to Kennedy. But it wasn’t until she left that she saw the inscription Fisher left inside: “You are my only boss. Thank you for not firing me.”
“I promise you, if you go first, I’ll heckle your funeral,” Hamill remember Fisher promising him after balking at the idea of posthumous praise. He says he reciprocated the promise, but at yesterday’s panel he admitted: “that was one promise to Carrie that I couldn’t keep.” Hamill closed the emotional panel by reciting lyrics from one of his favorite songs by The Kinks: “I wish my life was a 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.”
You can watch the original Carrie Fisher tribute below. Wanna stay up on all the Star Wars Celebration happenings? Check back on Collider frequently over the weekend for our extensive Celebration coverage.