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princess leia

'She was one in a billion': George Lucas pays tribute to Carrie Fisher

Lucas, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill attended an event to mark the 40th anniversary of Star Wars.

Star Wars Celebration-40 Year Anniversary Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa, and Harrison Ford as Hans Solo in the original 1977 Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment via AP Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment via AP

HOW DO YOU celebrate 40 years of Star Wars in 90 minutes?

With a surprise Harrison Ford appearance, a touching Carrie Fisher tribute, a John Williams performance and a fair amount of jokes about George Lucas’ dialogue, of course.

Attendees at the Star Wars Celebration were treated to that and more in Orlando, Florida yesterday at the kick-off of the four-day fan event marking the anniversary of Lucas’ space saga.

Actor Warwick Davis moderated the sprawling look-back at the four decade legacy, featuring appearances by Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Hayden Christensen.

carrie Carrie Fisher in 2015 West PA Wire / PA Images West PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

Missing, of course, was Carrie Fisher, who died late last year at the age of 60.

“She was very strong, very smart, very funny, very bold and very tough. There were not very many people like her. They’re one in a billion,” Lucas said, recalling Fisher’s willingness to tell him when his dialogue was too difficult to say in portraying Princess Leia.

We’ll all love her forever and ever.

Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd, who acted alongside her mother in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, appeared on stage decked in Princess Leia white to remember her mother and grandmother Debbie Reynolds.

billie Billie Lourd Instagram Instagram

Hamill has also planned a Fisher tribute for today.

Harrison Ford

Ford’s unexpected appearance garnered the most enthusiastic response from the thousands of fans in the convention centre.

“I can’t believe we managed to keep it a secret considering you landed your plane” on Interstate 4, Davis joked when the applause died down, referencing Ford’s near-misses while flying planes.

“It was a good landing,” Ford said, smiling.

The actor has historically had a tenuous relationship with the fandom around his character Han Solo, but he appeared genuinely happy to reminisce about the lasting legacy of Lucas’ creation.

hamill Instagram Instagram

Lucas said he had already worked with Ford on American Graffiti when he gave Ford the part because it was about “spaceships and flying” and he could fly.

Ford, quoting another of his iconic characters, Indiana Jones, quipped back, “Fly? Yes. Land? No.”

There were also video messages from Liam Neeson, who joked that a film was being made about Jar Jar Binks going to the dark side, and from Samuel L Jackson, who cheekily suggested that his prequel character Mace Windu is not dead.

“Let’s make it happen,” Jackson said directly to Kennedy. “All you gotta do is say the word.”


For Star Wars super fans, most of the behind the scenes stories told were as well-known as the stories in the actual films — from the fact that Lucas’ inspiration for Chewbacca was his dog Indiana to the actors’ problems with Lucas’ fanciful and technical dialogue.

“How can you make it sound like it’s spontaneous dialogue rolling off the tongue?” Hamill asked.

“He was right. It was a bit much,” Lucas responded. Ford laughed.

“I said to George, ‘You can type this stuff but you can’t say it. Move your mouth when you’re typing’.”

'Star Wars' 40th Anniversary Orlando Event Fans at the convention Joe Burbank / TNS via ZUMA Wire via AP Joe Burbank / TNS via ZUMA Wire via AP / TNS via ZUMA Wire via AP

Star Wars composer John Williams closed out the session, conducting the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra in a performance of his score from the Imperial March to the Main Title.

The Star Wars Celebration runs until Sunday and includes a myriad of events for fans, many of which can be streamed online. Perhaps the most anticipated is a talk with Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson today in advance of its December release.

Read: Broadway to dim its lights tomorrow for Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

Read: Harrison Ford won’t lose pilot’s licence for mistakenly landing on taxiway

Associated Foreign Press
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