Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher shared a familial bond, both on- and off-screen.
The beloved actress unexpectedly died December 27 at 60, days after suffering a heart attack. Hamill paid tribute to Fisher Monday in a farewell letter, published in The Hollywood Reporter.
"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," he wrote. "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!'"
Hamill was "bowled over" when he met Fisher just before filming 1977's "Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope." "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 [Debbie Reynolds], 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," the actor said. "She just sucked you into her world."
Fisher's sense of humor was as infectious as it was legendary. "I would do crazy things to amuse her on the set," Hamill, 65, wrote. "Making her laugh was always a badge of honor...The lengths I would go to hear her laugh--there were no limits. I loved her and loved making her laugh."
Throughout their four decades of friendship, Fisher "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," Hamill said. "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."
Hamill is "grateful" they remained friends for so long. "We ran the gamut over the years, where we were in love with each other, where we hated each other's guts," he said. "'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."
Best of all, Hamill told The Hollywood Reporter, Fisher "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 degrees opposite, where you were furious with one another and wouldn't speak for weeks 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."
In the wake of Fisher's death, Hamill released a statement to E! News. "It's never easy to lose such a vital, irreplaceable member of the family, but this is downright heartbreaking," the actor said. "Carrie was one-of-a-kind who belonged to us all--whether she liked it or not..."
Days later, Hamill told Entertainment Weekly how he was holding up.
"I'm still trying to process this. I can't think of her in the past tense. I think of her in the present tense, in the future tense. It is still so raw. I feel so devastated...I think that if I talk about her, maybe fans will not give in to despair, but I feel like a real hypocrite because I'm not OK with it at all," the actor admitted. "I'm angry and so sad. In a way, if we can all work through it together, we'll all be better off."