Twenty patients from Ottawa, Canada’s Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) were taken by self-professed Star Wars fan Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, December 15 for a special screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. CHEO patient Ian Black, 15, who is both a Star Wars and a Justin Trudeau fan, was one of the lucky kids invited to the event, and his mother, Shirley, said her boy was nearly vibrating with the excitement.
“He was through the roof,” she said, according to the Ottawa Sun. “He was really ecstatic. His sister went with him and they were both really happy to meet with him.”
While Star Wars: The Force Awakens has its official public opening December 18, the 20 patients chosen for the special screening were selected only 24 hours before the viewing with Canada’s prime minister on Monday evening. Patients were selected based on a range of criteria, including whether or not they would be healthy enough for a night out to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Prime Minister Trudeau was also good enough to share no other spoiler of the film other than “[i]t was amazing.”
CHEO officials were surprised by the prime minister’s decision to invite 20 CHEO patients to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, according to the Ottawa Sun, but Len Hanes, director of communications at the CHEO Foundation, said that the opportunity was certainly a unique one.
“What an opportunity for our patients,” he said. “They deserve a break and to get one like there where they get to see this spectacular movie and meet the new Prime Minister and we were all overjoyed.”
According to the CHEO website, the hospital is one of the few standalone pediatric hospitals in Canada, and its emergency room alone treats some 69,000 patients annually. Patients range in age from 0 to 18 years.
Word quickly spread about Prime Minister Trudeau’s special screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and according to CTV News, the prime minister was asked if the film was as good as Harrison Ford, who plays Han Solo, said it was. The question was asked during a town hall-style session for Macleans.
“I don’t know what Harrison Ford said about it, but I can tell you it is as good as I had hoped it was,” Trudeau said. “It’s so good.”
This is not the first time the Canadian prime minister has shared his love of Star Wars. At 11, he was asked by CBC News what he thought of Return of the Jedi, which was released in May 1983. His father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was prime minister at the time.
Also, this Halloween, the current Prime Minister Trudeau and his family hit the trick or treat trail as characters from the beloved Star Wars franchise, likely in anticipation of the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The Canadian prime minister dressed as Han Solo in his uniform from Hoth, while wife Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau dressed as Princess Leia. Their kids were dressed as Anna from Frozen, a Ninja Turtle, and a bird as they made the rounds in Ottawa’s Rockliffe neighborhood, according to CBC News.
— Toronto Life (@torontolife) December 17, 2015
Star Wars: The Force Awakens made its global debut December 14, while it bowed in Canada December 16. The film officially opens to the public December 18. After seeing the Hollywood opening, in which 70 Los Angeles Police Department officers were present in addition to several metal detectors and, of course, all of the Hollywood luminaries, including director J.J. Abrams, it is a virtual lock that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is one of the most hyped films of the decade. However, for the 20 CHEO patients who got to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens with the Canadian prime minister, the occasion of their viewing will likely be one of the most memorable of their young lives.
[Photo by Michel Euler/AP Images]