Daisy Ridley in a scene from the trailer for the movie Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

What you need to know about Star Wars

12th December 2017 12:27 PM

A long time ago in a restaurant far, far away ... a bond was forged that would have an impact on the entire galaxy. Well, on the big screen at least.

But the coming together of Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher to play Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia in a risky science-fiction motion picture called Star Wars would certainly prove an irresistible force for us here on Earth.

The headline acts, Hamill and Fisher, would resonate with an entire generation - or two - and become pop culture icons.

Who else could make wearing hair buns fashionable but Fisher's feisty Leia Organa?

With bravado and style to match, their characters battled Darth Vader and the evil Empire in three instalments of arguably the greatest franchise in movie history.

Oh, and if you weren't aware already (spoiler alert), the dastardly Darth turned out to be their dear old dad.

It was ultimately revealed Luke and Leia were twins, separated at birth, adding to the intrigue of the ambitious space opera that had even more shock value than Game of Thrones.

We were even subjected to a passionate kiss between the siblings - before they knew of their roots of course, and most likely before Star Wars creator George Lucas knew exactly where the epic story was going.

But, away from the cameras, Hamill and Fisher became much like a real brother and sister after an initial meeting over dinner in London in 1976. The daughter of screen siren Debbie Reynolds, Fisher won the role of Leia after dropping out of high school to take to the stage. Hamill was picked to play Luke after being persuaded to audition by his friend Robert Englund (who would later portray Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street series).

Hamill was back from Tunisia, where he had filmed scenes with Sir Alec Guinness (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and a couple of droids (C3PO and R2-DT).

 

Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and a Porg in a scene from the movie Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Supplied by Disney.
Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and a Porg in a scene from the movie Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Supplied by Disney. Lucasfilm

Fisher was just 19, and Hamill, 24, had recalled in a column for The Hollywood Reporter: "I was thinking, 'Oh my God, it'll be like working with a high school kid'.

"But I was just bowled over ... 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 ... harrowing in its detail. I kept thinking, 'Should I know this?' But she just sucked you into her world.

In a way Leia embodied the boldness of Fisher. On screen, Luke and Leia would come face to face for the first time during a daring rescue of the princess aboard the Death Star.

Luke was dressed in a storm trooper outfit when bursting into her cell, to which the imprisoned Leia would comment "Aren't you a little short for a storm trooper?"

Back for the sequel after the original Star Wars, Hamill and Fisher shared only a few scenes together in The Empire Strikes Back (1980).

But the actors made their brief moments together unforgettable, Fisher at one stage enticing Hamill into her white one-piece jumpsuit.

"It was so tight I looked like a Vegas lounge singer," he once recalled.

 

 

Daisy Ridley in a scene from the movie Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Supplied by Disney.
Daisy Ridley in a scene from the movie Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Supplied by Disney. Jonathon Olley

"If that wasn't ridiculous enough, she had me put on one of those bald cap masks with the Bozo hair and glasses and nose and then she walked me around the back lot. The lengths I would go to hear her laugh."

Together, their characters had the last laugh on the Empire in 1983's Return of the Jedi after Luke revealed their big family secret/s, bringing down the Emperor, aided by a bunch of Ewoks and a redeemed Vader aka Anakin Skywalker. Their embrace on the forest moon of Endor after their victory was to be the final time we would see Luke and Leia together, if not Hamill and Fisher. Until now ... 34 years later. After Leia (now a General and a leader of the Resistance) had minimal screen time in 2015's The Force Awakens - and Hamill even less, not even a word of dialogue - it will be the pair's time to shine again.

The Last Jedi promises to be an emotional rollercoaster, especially for fans of the original trilogy.

Sadly, Fisher passed away last December after suffering heart failure, aged 60.

Fortunately she completed principal photography on The Last Jedi - and surely involving scenes that will reunite Luke and Leia at long last.

Though he was barely in it, a huge focus of The Force Awakens was the whereabouts of the now legendary Luke.

He had taken off after his Jedi temple was destroyed by his own flesh and blood, when his nephew Ben Solo (Adam Driver) aka Kylo Ren - the son of Leia and Han - turned to the dark side of the force. Luke having been found by Jedi apprentice-to-be Rey (Daisy Ridley) at the end of that film, the world now awaits to see what's in store next for Star Wars characters young and old.

But, rest assured, both Luke and Leia will again be on the front line in the battle between good and evil.

 

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in a scene from the movie Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Supplied by Disney.
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in a scene from the movie Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Supplied by Disney. Lucasfilm

While little has actually been revealed about director Rian Johnson's Episode VIII, the stakes are most certainly high for Leia, who is suffering the inner turmoil of her son having murdered Han, bringing a tragic end to Harrison Ford's time in the franchise.

Johnson, who has taken over the director reins from JJ Abrams, promises that seeing Leia - and Fisher in her final ever role - will be "sad, but really joyful", and notably "she really kicks (butt)".

"She was so conscious of the place that Leia had," Johnson said in an interview with Yahoo!News.

"Not just broadly in the culture, but very specifically in terms of girls who grew up watching Star Wars, when Leia was the only female hero on the screen.

She really wanted to do right by that, drawing the character forward. That was something that she would always be pulling us back to.

Who knows, she might even "use the force'' - or better yet a lightsaber for the first time like her long-lost brother.

We don't know what plans LucasFilm has in store for Leia beyond The Last Jedi, in the so far untitled Episode IX (being directed again by Abrams and being released in 2019).

 

Kelly Marie Tran and John Boyega in a scene from the movie Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Supplied by Disney.
Kelly Marie Tran and John Boyega in a scene from the movie Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Supplied by Disney. David James

Reportedly, a decision has been made not to use digital manipulation in order to include her in the final instalment of this current trilogy.

It may be a case of her going down swinging. Hamill reckons his "super cool space sis" wouldn't want it any other way.

Speaking at a Star Wars convention earlier this year, he paid an emotion-charged albeit darkly humorous tribute to his long-time co-star: "When I think of her, she's looking down from the celestial stratosphere with those big brown eyes, that sly smile on her face, as she lovingly extends me the middle finger. And that's how I want you to think of her. That was Carrie."

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in cinemas on Thursday.