Mark Hamill has penned a touching, if sometimes brutally honest, tribute to his friend Carrie Fisher, and you’ll probably wind up needing a hanky before you finish reading all of it.
Writing a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter, Hamill begins his tribute to Fisher by going back to when the two first met: back in the early days of production of Star Wars back in the middle 1970s. The two came from wildly different backgrounds: Hamill, according to Biography, was a Navy brat who was just starting to break into the entertainment industry. Fisher, on the other hand, was the daughter of Hollywood royalty (her parents were Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher). Carrie was also in the earlier stages of her career – but she’d grown up hobnobbing with actors, directors, and producers.
Mark failed to take Carrie’s pedigree into account when he arrived on-set. Mark, five years older than Carrie at 24, thought his age would give him the upper hand in the working relationship (“So I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, it’ll be like working with a high school kid'”). He was wrong.
“She had a way of just being so brutally candid. I’d just met her but it was like talking to a person you’d known for ten years. She was telling me stuff about her stepfather, about her mom, about Eddie Fisher — it was just harrowing in its detail. I kept thinking, ‘Should I know this?'”
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Peter Mayhew(Chewbacca) on the set of the original Star Wars, 1977 pic.twitter.com/w4vuZn9D0V
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Hamill describes he and Fisher going out of their way to make each other laugh; Mark says that making Carrie laugh was a “badge of honor.” On one occasion during the filming of The Empire Strikes Back, Mark, frustrated and exhausted from working with puppets in an ersatz swamp, was feeling particularly blue. Carrie came in to save the day.
“Once at lunchtime she said,’You should try on my jumpsuit.’ I said, ‘The one-piece white jumpsuit? You’re what, 5’2″? I’ll never get in!’ She said, ‘Just try.’ I put on that Princess Leia zipper jump suit and it was so tight I looked like a Vegas lounge singer. If that wasn’t ridiculous enough, she had me put on one of those bald cap masks with the Bozo hair and glasses and nose and then she walked me around the back lot.”
Carrie Fisher trims producer Gary Kurtz’ beard with the production slate on set of EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, July 1979 pic.twitter.com/PgJOAuR5Yp
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Once the original Star Wars trilogy had run its course following the release of 1983’s The Return of the Jedi, Mark and Carrie went their separate ways in their careers. Despite being principal cast members in three of the biggest blockbusters of the century, neither became a Hollywood leading actor (in fact, only Harrison Ford would go on to be a major star). Mark got bit parts here and there, before settling into his niche as a voice actor. Carrie, on the other hand, went on to have much-publicized battles with addiction and mental illness – something she always spoke candidly about.
Like all relationships, Mark and Carrie’s had its more difficult moments. They would often go for weeks without speaking to each other. He also admits, rather candidly, that Carrie was “high maintenance” and “could be a handful.”
“But my life would have been so much drabber and less interesting if she hadn’t been the friend that she was.”
Mark Hamil and Carrie Fisher will appear on-screen together, for the final time, when Star Wars Episode VIII is released sometime in 2017.
[Featured Image by Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios]