It was at times a somber affair, sometimes a tearjerker, and somehow also a laugh riot. Mark Hamill took the stage in the auditorium at Star Wars Celebration Orlando to pay tribute to his friend, his "space twin" Carrie Fisher, in a moving panel that was as much a "joint therapy session," the star admitted, as it was a way of waving goodbye.
"Here's a panel I hoped we wouldn't have for another 30 years," Hamill started, sitting down with a sigh. It's a look that Celebration attendees over the years have never experienced at one of Hamill's panels, though this one was different. This was Carrie's panel -- she would have had one if her life didn't tragically end last December. "She should be here. She made every Celebration more fun. She deserved to be here. Wait till you see her in The Last Jedi, you're going to love her." Hamill said that he knows "Carrie would want us to be happy. She wouldn't want us consumed in grief. She wanted us to be happy every single day, that's why she was such a joy to be around … most of the time."
The actor told stories about Carrie from his personal and professional life and played video tributes from Star Wars creator George Lucas and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. Kennedy told the story of what would be the final time she saw Carrie, when she went to her house to show her the "young Leia" cameo from the end of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The actress was amazed by this use of technology.
"I rolled this shot, and she didn't say anything right away, she just sort of leaned back stunned. She said, and I'm sorry I can't say this completely because if you know Carrie, she dropped the F bomb several times," Kennedy said in the video. "She said, 'Oh my effing God!' I said, 'Yeah, it's pretty amazing, isn't it?!' She said, 'Yeah, I can't believe it,'" and then she jumped up and completely changed the conversation. She grabbed a copy of her book, The Princess Diarist, which revealed an affair between Fisher and Harrison Ford, and said, "I think Harrison's really mad at me." Carrie told Kennedy she'd sign the book for her, and while driving home, she stopped to open it and see what she'd written: "You are my only boss. Thanks for not firing me," Kennedy said with a laugh.
Hamill's two favorite stories of Fisher included when they found out that Luke and Leia were actually brother and sister. Similar to the pivotal moment of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, a mock scene with false information was shot with the full cast and crew, then the stars were told the truth: Luke and Leia are twins separated at birth.
"I was stunned! I'm five years older than Carrie!" Hamill quipped. Right away, the actor had to know, "'If I’m Luke Skywalker from a moisture farm on Tatooine, and Leia’s a princess, does that make me royalty?' and Carrie turned without missing a beat and said, 'No!'"
Hamill noted how when Fisher was with anyone in a one-on-one basis, she was "laser-focused" on them. "The moments I remember best are when I had her all to myself," he said. The actor told a hilarious story about their one slight tryst -- as two young actors embarking on this sort of film adventure often do, though he admitted a caveat to start.
"As attracted as I was to her, I knew I couldn't handle her as a girlfriend!" he said, with a laugh. "Part of me did fall in love with her. Every guy – she has you under her spell. Sometimes, we sort of wanted to go in that direction," he said, flirtatiously talking about who's a better kisser and "cut to us making out on the couch like a couple of teenagers. But what killed it was at some point we both started laughing – that kills it pretty quickly!"
Through tears and both visibly and audibly getting choked up, Hamill read his personal statement about Fisher, written as a bit of a eulogy about a week after her passing, aloud. He did, however, end that tearful goodbye about the "gorgeous, fiercely independent and ferociously funny take-charge woman who collectively took our breath away" with a little laughter. "I'm grateful for the laughter, for the wisdom, the kindness, even the bratty self-indulgent crap my beloved space twin gave me. Thank you, Carrie Frances. I love you, Mark." Hamill said.
One statement really said it all, though, and should leave Carrie Fisher fans with a smile - even if it's a slightly sullen one that Fisher herself would never approve of.
"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 her middle finger. That's how I want you think of her. That was Carrie."
Watch Lucasfilm's tribute to Carrie Fisher in the video below.