Mark Hamill paid tribute to a rebel, princess, senator, general and lifelong friend Friday at Star Wars Celebration.
His panel honoring Carrie Fisher was both darkly funny and emotional, with the star choking up at several points as he remembered the late actress, who died Dec. 27. Hamill recalled meeting her for the first time in London ahead of their shoot together for the first 1977 Star Wars.
"I was just bowled over by her humor and her wit, how sardonic she was, how dark she was. Within 20 minutes, she was telling me personal stories about her mother and father that I wouldn’t have shared with you if I'd known you 10 years," said Hamill.
The star also admitted there was an early attraction there, but ultimately their relationship would turn into a siblinglike friendship.
"As attracted as I was to her, I thought, 'I couldn't handle her as a girlfriend. She's too much. She's what you would call a high-maintenance relationship,' " said Hamill with a laugh.
Skip to the three-hour mark below to see the panel:
Hamill went on to discuss the dangers of dating someone whom you work with in show business, but admitted that there was some flirtation with Fisher.
"Sometimes, you know, we sort of wanted to go in that direction. On the pretext of talking about kissing techniques. 'Oh, I'm a pretty good kisser, you know.' 'Oh, I think I'm a better kisser.' Cut to us making out ... like a couple of horny teenagers," said Hamill. "I'll tell you, what really cooled it was the fact that, at some point, we both started laughing. Believe me … it kills your passion if someone's laughing in your face. But I thought, 'We dodged a bullet there,' because we had the fun without any of the responsibility."
Once, when visiting New York, Fisher refused to let Hamill stay in a hotel, insisting that she come stay at her house. Things had changed a lot by The Empire Strikes Back. Fisher had a boyfriend, and Hamill had a baby on the way. While filming the speeder-bike chase in Return of the Jedi, Fisher would pull out volumes of philosophy … Nietzsche, Kierkegaard … but in her trailer, she would have tabloid magazines. Hamill would poke fun at her, asking why she wouldn’t read that in front of the crew, to which she retorted, "Because I want people to think I’m smart."
Hamill also shared how he remembers Fisher on a daily basis.
"Today is a day where it would be very easy to be consumed with grief. Let me tell you, when I go to sleep at night, there's never a day so far where I don'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."
Hamill said that Fisher once told him what her plans were if he were to die first: "If you go first, I’ll heckle your funeral." She asked that he do the same for her. (He didn't, for the record.)
After showing a tribute video that debuted Thursday, Hamill also choked up as he read from a statement he wrote shortly after Fisher's death.
"She was OUR Princess, damn it, and the actress who played her blurred into one gorgeous, fiercely independent and ferociously funny, take-charge woman who took our collective breath away," read Hamill.
In another particularly emotional moment, Hamill read lines from The Kinks' "Celluloid Heroes": "I wish my life was a nonstop Hollywood movie show/ A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes/ Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain/ And celluloid heroes never really die."
Hamill welcomed Warwick Davis onstage to talk about how Fisher had acted as a surrogate mother to Davis when he joined the franchise at just age 11 in Return of the Jedi.
At the end, Hamill thanked fans for helping him through the loss of Fisher.
"This is part of the process; I need to move on. I tried very hard, but we lost Kenny Baker [R2-D2] and Carrie in such a close period of time. But she loved you, and I certainly love you, and I need your support, and we all need each other's support to make sure that we honor her legacy. ... And I'm thinking of one last quote for you, and that is, 'As long as we live, so too she shall live,' because she has become a part of us all, and we'll never stop missing her," said Hamill, choking up.
Hamill's tribute comes after George Lucas, Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy and Fisher's daughter, Billie Lourd, shared their own tributes during Thursday's opening-day panel. Earlier Friday, The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson also spoke about connecting with Fisher as a writer and the hours they spent working out dialogue together. Lucasfilm also debuted a moving tribute video Thursday. Hamill previously penned an essay for The Hollywood Reporter, in which he remembered his time with Fisher.