Star Wars has given so many people so much, but Mark Hamill may be its greatest gift.
It took until 2018 for the man behind Luke Skywalker to be acknowledged with a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, but to fans he’s always been the biggest star of the franchise — just try calling him Harrison Ford’s sidekick.
The new Star Wars sequel films have brought the rest of the world up to speed on Mark Hamill, who’s been enjoying his second round of megastardom by being the hero we need once again. Here’s how he’s been, and continues to be, the best part of Star Wars.
1. He inspired a generation
It wasn’t the cool spaceships, weird aliens and cutting-edge special effects that made Star Wars iconic — it was Hamill’s performance as Luke Skywalker. He took Luke from an ordinary, whiny farmboy to the man who saved the galaxy from the worst villain it’s ever known, creating a pop culture icon for kids everywhere who didn’t feel special but wanted to make a difference.
Who doesn’t love “Empire Strikes Back To The Future”? (featuring a brief background cameo by a youthful, surprisingly slim Jabba the Biff, in much happier, more carefree times)#MarksMarvelousMovieMashups https://t.co/ieNCYVU2Zo
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) February 19, 2018
2. He’s really good at Twitter
Twitter is a brutal place to be a celebrity, and many choose not to take part in social media entirely. Mark Hamill, though, is here for it all — from the haters to the biggest fans, he’ll retweet your memes and slide into your DMs, he’ll Like posts and troll himself harder than anyone else could.
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) October 6, 2017
3. He keeps up with fans
Getting to meet a celebrity as big as Hamill isn’t easy — he’s probably not getting his own coffee much these days, unless he’s got an hour to spare taking selfies with everyone in the cafe. But Hamill still likes to find ways to mingle with fans, which he did by spending 2017’s New York Comic Con photobombing people right on the convention floor.
— weed mom (@kynoren) January 13, 2016
4. He made Star Wars more inclusive
The joy of fandom is not just in finding community, but seeing heroes we can also embody. Hamill broadened the Star Wars universe just a little more by answering a fan’s question about Luke’s sexuality on Twitter. “His sexuality is never directly addressed in the films,” he told @kynoren. “Luke is whatever the audience wants him to be, so you can decide for yourself.”
— Edmundo Treviño (@Yo_Edmundo) March 11, 2018
5. He owns his mistakes
Most celebrities would cringe talking about the things they did early on in their careers, and basically any promotional stuff they do in Europe (because things get wild over there). Not Hamill — a fan recently dug up a photo of him from a 1980s German television show. He was rocking a gold lame bodysuit, which Hamill retweeted with a valuable lesson for all of us: “Thanks to the internet-NOTHING EVER GOES AWAY.”
6. He’s a friend to creatures great and small
Beloved by Carrie Fisher’s French bulldog Gary Fisher and frequent retweeter of stories from The Dodo, Hamill also stuck up for the ice beast that tried to eat him in The Empire Strikes Back. “When filming [that] scene I was assured my lightsaber swipe toward camera (creature not on set) would simply singe fur 2 scare him off,” he wrote about the wampa that had stashed Luke away for a snack in its cave. “Horrified to later see amputation & unnecessary cruelty-Wampa was HUNGRY (not EVIL)-Luke would never do this!”
Vladimir Putin boasts of “invincible” missile with video of a nuclear attack on Florida.
Donald Trump responds by boasting of saving “Alex” Baldwin’s “dieing” career with trademark mean-girl insult on Twitter.#PresidentialPriorities pic.twitter.com/jJD9X0a8Ll
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) March 2, 2018
7. He’s not afraid to get political
Americans have never been more politically divided, so celebrities who choose to make political comments risk greater backlash than ever. While other celebrities remain silent, Hamill hasn’t hidden his opinion, whether it’s calling out President Trump over Russian collusion and sexual harassment, supporting transgender service members or backing the #MeToo movement.
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) December 27, 2017
8. He pays good tribute
Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher weren’t just space twins. They were also real-life friends for 40 years, up until her death in 2016. To commemorate one year of her passing, Hamill tweeted two photos of them together — and the perfect piece of fan art to capture her spirit. Get you a friend who knows and loves you for exactly who you are.
im laughing so hard whY is he like this pic.twitter.com/SQH50p3len
— erin (@artooluke) March 5, 2018
9. He cares about Luke as much as we do
To say The Last Jedi was controversial is the understatement of the franchise. By far the most controversial aspect was the twist that Luke had been the one to set Ben Solo on his path to becoming Kylo Ren, a move Hamill criticized to Nightline: “When I read [Episode] 8 I told Rian, ‘I fundamentally disagree with virtually everything you’ve decided about my character.’” Even though he’s since walked back that comment, plenty of fans still feel the same.
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) July 13, 2017
10. He’s a fan, too
It’s fitting that the man who’s adored by millions worldwide shares the love, too. Hamill understands the power of fiction to inspire and bring people together, and recommends the things that bring him joy, from Fox’s genre-bending cop comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine to newly minted Oscar winner Jordan Peele’s Get Out. Once you’re done with your most recent rewatch of the Star Wars saga, look to Hamill for what to check out next.