Mark Hamill’s Carrie Fisher Tribute: “Making Her Laugh Was a Badge of Honor” (Guest Column)

"She was a handful, but my life would have been so much drabber if she hadn't been my friend," Hamill writes in a remembrance of his late 'Star Wars' co-star.
Albert L. Ortega/Gettyimages
Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill
Carrie and I occupied a unique area in each other’s lives. It was like we were in a garage band together that somehow hit it huge. We had no idea the impact Star Wars would have on the world. I remember we were out on tour right before the movie opened. By the time we got to Chicago, there was a crowd at the airport. I said, ‘Hey look, you guys, there must be somebody famous on the plane.” I was looking around to see who it might be. And then in the crowd I saw a kid dressed in a Han Solo vest. Then I saw a girl dressed like Princess Leia. I said, “Oh my God, look, Carrie, there’s somebody dressed just like you. She’s got the buns on her head!”The first time I met Carrie was at dinner in London before we started filming together. I had been the first one to go over to Africa with Sir Alec Guinness and the robots, to do all the desert planet stuff, then I came back to London and then Harrison Ford came over. Carrie was the last piece in the puzzle to come to London. So I said to the production office, “I’d like to meet her before we work together.” They worked out that we’d meet for dinner. You know, she was 19 years old at the time. I was a worldly 24. So I was thinking, “Oh my God, it’ll be like working with a high school kid.” But I was just bowled over. I mean she was just so instantly ingratiating and funny and outspoken. 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 10 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?” I mean, I wouldn’t have shared that with somebody that I had trusted for years and years and years. But she was the opposite. She just sucked you into her world.

I was so middle class. Growing up, the closest thing to a celebrity we had was our next door neighbor, who was a baggage handler who returned Jerry Lewis’ wallet that fell on the tarmac in San Diego. But Carrie was something completely different. She dropped out of high school to be in the chorus of Irene on Broadway. I was just in awe of her.

She was so committed to joy and fun and embracing life.

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