It's the most widely anticipated movie of the year, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi finally hits theaters this week. While on the red carpet at the premiere of The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill celebrated his Star Wars co-star Carrie Fisher (Princess, and later General Leia Organa) with a quote to E! News that is both aww-inducing and a reminder of how hilariously irreverent the late actor was.
"She's wonderful in the movie," Hamill told E! while walking the red carpet. "I always think of her in the present tense, not the past. If she were here now, she'd be giving you the bunny ears, flipping me the middle finger. I mean, she was just fun to be around — all the time!"
Fisher was known for being outspoken and outlandish at times. The actor and author spoke frequently about her struggles with mental health and addiction, and her urn was even made to look like an oversized Prozac pill. It was widely viewed as a perfect reminder to fans of the late actor's amazing and sometimes morbid sense of humor.
While speaking to E!, Hamill explained how he's found closure dealing with Fisher's death. "Instead of being upset that she's not here, I have to remember all the years of fun that she gave me," he said. "I met her when she was 19!"
Indeed, Fisher — who was born on October 21, 1956 and was only 60 years old when she passed — was only 19 when she first auditioned for a role in Star Wars. You can actually watch a video of the actor auditioning alongside Harrison Ford, who was 30 at the time.
Almost a year ago, Fisher suffered cardiac arrest while on a flight and died shortly after on Dec. 27, 2016. Her mother, Debbie Reynolds, suffered a stroke and died the following day. A joint memorial was held for Fisher and Reynolds on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, and it was during their memorial that Fisher’s brother, Todd, was spotted carrying Fisher’s pill-shaped urn.
Hamill's comments at the premiere of The Last Jedi aren't the first time he's mentioned Fisher during his recent promotional tour for the film. While at an event in Tokyo, Japan a few days ago he said that Fisher was "so alive in his mind," the Daily Telegraph reported (via the Daily Mail). He also said that Fisher would want fans to enjoy the new film, despite the somber feelings they might have about seeing the late actor on screen. (Fisher shot her scenes for The Last Jedi shortly before her passing.) Hamill said, "I know that she would want us to enjoy the film and to be happy and laugh, because that's what Carrie was all about."
The Last Jedi screenwriter Rian Johnson also recently spoke about Fisher's role in the film. "She is so good in it," Johnson said, according to the Associated Press. "It's really going to be emotional for people who she means something to see this. I hope it'll be good. I hope it'll mean something to them." He also said that he did not alter her role in the film after her passing, but obviously wouldn't reveal any further details.
The newest Star Wars film debuts in theaters this Thursday, Dec. 15, and judging by comments from Hamill and Johnson it seems like fans of Fisher really have something to look forward to. Just be sure to bring a package of tissues in case seeing Fisher on the big screen in her final performance causes an emotional reaction.