Mark Hamill's Carrie Fisher tribute: 'Making her laugh was a badge of honor' (Guest column)


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 StarWars 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 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 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?" 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.

See photos of Mark Hamill through the years:

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Mark Hamill through the years
Mark Hamill with his girlfriend at a theater; circa 1970; New York. (Photo by Art Zelin/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 14: ROOM 222 - 'I've Got the Hammer, If You've Got the Thumb' - 9/14/73, Mark Hamill (as Matt Evans) and Phil Carey (as Benjamin Evans) in the 'I've Got the Hammer, If You've Got the Thumb' episode of the ABC series 'Room 222.', (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
JUN 15 1977, MAY 30 1978, JUN 4 1978; 'Star Wars' has Given three Performers that 'All-Important Break'; Featured in the popular science fantasy movie are, from left, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford.; (Photo By Steve Larson/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
CANADA - JUNE 23: Actor; Mark Hamill (Photo by Reg Innell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
American actor Mark Hamill, star of George Lucas' space saga 'Star Wars', 1978. (Photo by Maureen Donaldson/Getty Images)
Mark Hamill hitchhikes from Las Vegas to Los Angeles in a scene from the film 'Corvette Summer', 1978. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)
THE 50TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS - Show Coverage - Shoot Date: April 3, 1978. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) BENJAMIN BURTT JR.;C3PO;MARK HAMILL
Mark Hamill (Photo by Tom Wargacki/WireImage)
FRIDAYS - Show Coverage - Shoot Date: May 8, 1981. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) L-R: MARK HAMILL;MICHAEL RICHARDS;EXTRA
KIDS ARE PEOPLE TOO - Show Coverage - Shoot Date: July 24, 1980. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) HOST MICHAEL YOUNG (C) AND MARK HAMILL (R) WITH AUDIENCE MEMBERS
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 11: Actor Mark Hamill, best known for starring as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars saga, and his wife Marilou York attend a premiere on February 11, 1989 in London, England. (Photo by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images)
CANADA - NOVEMBER 18: 'Luke Skywalker' on Wellesley; Star Wars star Mark Hamill and Toronto actress Jessica Steen take a break on location at Jarvis Collegiate; where they're filming an Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode for airing on TV in February. (Photo by Bernard Weil/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Mark Hamill & Dean Cain (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 20: George Lucas ,the Film's Creator, [left] And Mark Hamill Who Played Luke Skywalker At The London Premiere Of The Film 'star Wars' (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
Mark Hamill (center) and sons during 'Starship Troopers' Los Angeles Premiere at Mann Village Theatre in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Actor Mark Hamill and actress Carrie Fisher attending '10th Anniversary Gala for American Film Institute' on November 17, 1977 at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
WESTWOOD, CA - AUGUST 15: Shannon Elizabeth, Writer/Director/Actor Kevin Smith, Mark Hamill and Jason Mewes attend the post-premiere party for 'Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back' on August 15, 2001 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Mark Hamill during World Premiere Of 'The Hulk' - Hollywood at Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
X-Men's Alan Cumming and Star Wars Mark Hamill (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
Meri Lou and Mark Hamill during 2004 Cannes Film Festival - 'The Life and Death of Peter Sellers' Premiere at Palais Du Festival in Cannes, France. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)
WESTWOOD , CA - MAY 12: Actor Mark Hamill (centre) and his daugter Chelsea (left) and wife Marilou arrive with C-3PO to the 'Star Wars Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith' Los Angeles Premiere at the Mann Village Theatre on May 12, 2005 in Westwood, California. The premiere benefits the charity Artists for a New South Africa and its comprehensive, ground-breaking program for South African children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
WESTWOOD , CA - MAY 12: Actor Mark Hamill and Chewbacca arrive at the 'Star Wars Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith' Los Angeles Premiere at the Mann Village Theatre on May 12, 2005 in Westwood, California. The premiere benefits the charity Artists for a New South Africa and its compreshensive, ground-breaking program for South African children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 12: Actor Mark Hamill (R) and Chelsea Hamill arrive at Spike TV's 7th Annual Video Game Awards at the Nokia Event Deck at LA Live on December 12, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 17: Director/Actor Mark Hamill attends the Black Pearl Photocall during the 63rd Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 2010 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
THE NEIGHBORS - 'It Has Begun . . . . ' - The Weavers take the Bird-Kersees to Atlantic City, where Marty learns that Larry Bird not only counts cards, he can see through them, and Jackie admits that she's always wanted a human wedding. Meanwhile, Dick Butkus, in charge back home, gets an ominous call from his grandpa. Is it time for the Neighbors to return to Zabvron? Find out on the Season Finale of 'The Neighbors,' WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27 (8:30-9:00 p.m., ET) on ABC. The episode features two of science fiction's biggest icons as guest stars, George Takei as Grandfather and Mark Hamill as Commandant Bill. (Photo by Richard Cartwright/ABC via Getty Images) GEORGE TAKEI, MARK HAMILL
ESSEN, GERMANY - JULY 28: Actor and producer Mark Hamill (L), best known for his performance as Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy, and actor Warwick Davis (R) attend the Star Wars Celebration at Messe Essen on July 28, 2013 in Essen, Germany. (Photo by Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: Actor Mark Hamill attends the Midnight Mission's 100 year anniversary Golden Heart Gala held at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on September 30, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 16: (L-R) Actors Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Anthony Daniels speak onstage during Star Wars Celebration 2015 on April 16, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10: Actor Mark Hamill (C) poses with Imperial Stormtroopers at the Lucasfilm panel during Comic-Con International 2015 at the San Diego Convention Center on July 10, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10: Actors Harrison Ford (R) and Mark Hamill attend Comic-Con International at San Diego Convention Center on July 10, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Daniel Knighton/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: Actor Mark Hamill attends the Premiere of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
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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. She had an Auntie Mame quality to her. I would do crazy things to amuse her on the set. Making her laugh was always a badge of honor. I remember during Empire we were split up storywise, it was a difficult film to shot and there was a lot of tension on the set. I was off on the swamp land with the puppets and robots, but at least Carrie and Harrison got to work with human beings. Once at lunch time 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.

Read more: Critic's Notebook: Carrie Fisher, Child of Hollywood and Droll Observer of Celebrity

The lengths I would go to hear her laugh — there were no limits. I loved her and loved making her laugh. She would do these crazy things and make me do these crazy things, but I really don't think they were crazy after all. In a way, it was a defense mechanism for her. She was so off the wall, she could use it as protection. Part of what was so poignant about her was that she was vulnerable, that there was this glimmer of a little girl that was so appealing and it roused the protective nature in my personality.

See photos of Carrie Fisher through the years:

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Carrie Fisher through the years
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Carrie Fisher through the years
(Original Caption) Debbie Reynolds-Eddie Fisher with daughter Carrie Frances born October 21, 1956' (Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Hollywood: Eddie Fisher holds his two children, Todd 1, and Carrie, 2, (R), while shopping for toys just before his departure for Las Vegas and a possible rendezvous with actress Elizabeth Taylor. Fisher has not been photographed with the children born to his ex-wife, Debbie Reynolds, since September 1958.
12th February 1972: American actress Debbie Reynolds with her daughter Carrie Fisher. (Photo by Dove/Evening Standard/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Carrie Fisher Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
American actress Carrie Fisher on the set of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope written, directed and produced by Georges Lucas. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
American actors Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford on the set of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back directed by Irvin Kershner. (Photo by Lucasfilm/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Carrie Fisher at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, New York (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Star Wars trilogy costars Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. (Photo by Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)
Peter Weller and Carrie Fisher during Giorgio Armani Fashion Show - September 19, 1980 at RCA Promenade in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 2002: Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher on Fifth Ave outside The Plaza hotel. They were in town for the movie 'Star Wars.' (Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Carrie Fisher -- Carrie Fisher played photographer last night at xenon. For most of this year she played Princess Lea (check Sp) in revenge of the Jedi, The final movie in the star wars Triogy. She was quiet about the out Come of the movie, June 03, 1982. (Photo by Vernon Shibla/New York Post Archives / (c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)
Paul Simon and Carrie Fisher at the Paul Simon's Central Park West Apartment in New York City, New York (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
NEW YORK - AUGUST 28: American actress, novelist and screenwriter Carrie Fisher poses for a portrait on August 28,1987 in New York City, New York. (Photo by Catherine McGann/Getty Images)
CA.Apla96.#1.GF. David Geffen (left) & Carrie Fisher dance at afterÂparty following Commitment to Life benefit held at Universal Ampitheatre Thursday niteÂÂHiggins story (Photo by Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 03: Carrie Fisher is on hand at Avery Fisher Hall for the Film Society of Lincoln Center's gala tribute to Mike Nichols. (Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Carrie Fisher during 'Stateside' Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals at The Crest Theatre in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 20: Carrie Fisher book signing in Santa Monica, United States on January 20, 2005 - Carrie Fisher and her book 'The Best Awful' at the Barnes & Nobel bookstore, California. (Photo by Mike FANOUS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - JUNE 09: (L-R) Actors Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford speak onstage during the 33rd AFI Life Achievement Award tribute to George Lucas at the Kodak Theatre on June 9, 2005 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - JUNE 09: Actors Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher pose at the dinner during the 33rd AFI Life Achievement Award tribute to George Lucas at the Kodak Theatre on June 9, 2005 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)
Actress Carrie Fisher poses during a dress rehearsal of her play 'Wishful Drinking,' at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood. (Photo by Axel Koester/Corbis via Getty Images)
Century City, CA. Actress & author Carrie Fisher will be one of the judges on Fox's reality competition 'On the Lot' which sought submissions from aspiring filmmakers, selecting 50 to appear on the show. These semiÂfinalists will discover the magic of moviemaking when they are brought to Los Angeles to visit a realÂlife film set for the first time and must endure a rigorous Hollywood Boot Camp, says the Fox website. Carrie Fisher, one of the judges talks about the movie biz, and, perhaps, the show for a sunday Q&A at the Intercontinental Hotel in Century City. (Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 11: American Actress, Carrie Fisher poses for a portrait during her 'Wishful Drinking' tour at the Sydney Observatory Hotel on October 11, 2010 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 07: Actress Carrie Fisher arrives at the premiere of HBO's documentary 'Wishful Drinking' at Linwood Dunn Theater at the Pickford Center for Motion Study on December 7, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Caulfield/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 07: Actress Carrie Fisher arrives at the 4th Annual Logo's 'NewNowNext Awards' 2011 at Avalon on April 7, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 03: (L-R) Actress and author Carrie Fisher with daughter Billie Lourd attend the 2011 Silver Hill Hospital gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on November 3, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/FilmMagic)
TODAY -- Pictured: Carrie Fisher appears on NBC News' 'Today' show (Photo by Charles Sykes/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 04: Actress Carrie Fisher speaks onstage during the Comedy Central Roast of Roseanne Barr at Hollywood Palladium on August 4, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: (L-R) Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill attend the Midnight Mission Golden Heart awards gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on September 30, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 16: Carrie Fisher attends the European Premiere of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' at Leicester Square on December 16, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
Carrie Fisher poses for cameras as she arrives at the European Premiere of Star Wars, The Force Awakens in Leicester Square, London, December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Paul Hackett/File Photo
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 10: Actress Carrie Fisher attends the 54th New York Film Festival 'Bright Lights' screening at Alice Tully Hall on October 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by CJ Rivera/FilmMagic)
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I'm grateful that we stayed friends and got to have this second act with the new movies. I think it was reassuring to her that I was there, the same person, that she could trust me, as critical as we could sometimes be with each other. We ran the gamut over the years, where we were in love with each other, where we hated each other's guts. "I'm not speaking to you, you're such a judgmental, royal brat!" We went through it all. It's like we were a family.

When you were in her good graces, you couldn't have more fun with any person on the planet. She was able to make you feel like you were the most important thing in her life. I think that's a really rare quality. And then you could go 180-degreees opposite, where you were furious with one another and wouldn't speak for week and weeks. But that's all part of what makes a relationship complete. It's not all one sided. Like I say, she was a handful. She was high-maintenance. But my life would have been so much drabber and less interesting if she hadn't been the friend that she was.


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