Mark Hamill graciously accepted his status as a Disney Legend last night at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California. And how fitting is that? Just as Luke Skywalker inspired millions of people over the last four decades with his strength, honor, and resiliency in the face of overwhelming odds, Mark Hamill has further inspired us with his humility, appreciation, and unending goodwill toward all of us who have been so captivated by his portrayal in these wonderful movies.
If any performer in history has ever been more aware of the impact that their characterization has had on their fans, I’ve never heard of him. Hamill has ceaselessly expressed how amazed and delighted he is that Luke Skywalker has been embraced by so many. The connection that transpires between the character and the audience is nothing short of a magical one, and the import and impact of this has never been lost on Hamill, for he, too, has been that awestruck fan with starry eyes filled with dreams. Never condescending, never holier than thou, Mark Hamill has fought the good fight and won us over.
While some have debated the Oscar worthiness of his performances, no one could debate that Hamill instilled Luke Skywalker with the right amount of wonder, willingness to rise to the occasion and, above all, belief that what transpired onscreen was nothing short of real. Mark believed, with all his heart, and therefore we were convinced that Luke believed, and hence, we believed. The suspension of disbelief that is so vital to the artistic success of a film as fantastical as Star Wars sat squarely on his shoulders, and he bore the weight with an unabashed dignity.
Anyone who doesn’t believe (gasp!) need only watch and listen to his acceptance speech, where he touchingly honors those who gave him the opportunity, those who came along for the ride, and a certain lovely soul who has passed on…
So I say: Congratulations, Mr. Hamill! You were a legend to the fans long before Disney appointed you as such; but now that it’s official, it couldn’t be more timely, more suiting, and more right. Now your star will shine even brighter, in the skies that catch our eyes and on our silver screens.
Be well, my friends. Stay humble, but go boldly after you dreams. The force will be with you, always.