As if we weren't excited enough for the St. Patrick's Day festivities this weekend (and the long weekend, hello?), our excitement went up a gear when our favourite Jedi mastermind Mark Hamill announced via Twitter that he'd be spending the weekend here in Ireland.
And I am delighted to return to the beautiful Emerald Isle to spend St. Patrick's Day with the people of Ireland at the Festival & meet your President! Also a rare opportunity to indulge in a mug of delicious green milk. 🇮🇪☘️ https://t.co/aePeuiQgDd
— MarkHoHoHoHamill (@HamillHimself) March 12, 2018
Mark Hamill (for the non-sci-fi geeks among us) is an actor who had the starring role in one of the biggest movies of all time; Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. The whole 'Luke, I am your father' thing? That's him. After the initial release of Star Wars in 1977, Hamill became a massive star, going on to act in the sequels and make a successful career as a voice actor in video games and animations. Almost 40 years after first picking up the lightsaber, he reprised his role as Luke in The Force Awakens in 2015. So all in all, a pretty big deal.
A big reason that Hamill has proved so popular with fans (and in particular female fans) in the past has been his pitch-perfect answers to sexism and gender role issues. Just last week, a mother of an upset daughter tweeted about how her girl was afraid to wear her Star Wars t-shirt to school in case "her classmates will laugh because she likes 'boy stuff'". Hamill replied with the perfect piece of Jedi advice:
Just tell her to feel free to use this gesture if her classmates give her any grief. "Boy stuff"? PLEASE! The Force is, & always will be strong with females here on Earth & in galaxies far, far away.
♥️- mh pic.twitter.com/lAI4AGr0sc
— MarkHoHoHoHamill (@HamillHimself) March 8, 2018
As a much loved actor and presence online, Hamill is taking on a brand new role in the St. Patrick's Day festivities; the International Guest of Honour. In the new position, Hamill will have a special place in the Presidential stand at the parade to watch the acts pass by in Dublin city centre. It's a role that the Festival has been considering for a few years, and now Hamill will be the first to take it on. Speaking about the announcement, Susan Kirby, CEO of the festival said: "There are so many examples of Irish people and the diaspora achieving eminence across many different art forms and disciplines worldwide. Many of these have a special connection with Ireland and we want to celebrate and recognise this. Mark has a special affinity to Ireland through his filming of Star Wars and family history and has done much for our film industry. We’re looking forward to welcoming him back ‘home’ to celebrate our national holiday and St. Patrick’s Festival with us."
As Kirby mentioned, this won't be Hamill's first time in Ireland; he spent time here shooting scenes for Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi on the beautifully scenic Skellig Michael in Kerry in 2016. And although he loved the rugged beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way, the climb up the island's steps proved a bit much, as he told the Irish Times: "as I left I thought: Well, that was incredible but I’m never doing that again." But a picture of the island does serve as his Twitter header, so it can't have been all bad.
It's clear that Hamill understands his influence as a part of one of the biggest franchises of all time, and he's a perfect example of using that power (or 'the Force', if you will) for good. Between his touching tributes to his late co-star (and all-around icon) Carrie Fisher and his constant online encouragement of his fans' individuality, he's become something of a social media favourite these past few years. His timeline reads like a how-to to be great on Twitter, with a perfect balance of dad jokes, encouraging retweets and self-deprecating humour (his recent tweet of a particularly embarrassing moment in the 80s when he donned a gold jumpsuit is a personal favourite). For someone who's been a pop culture staple for decades, his talent for producing bite-sized social media gold means that he's attracting a whole new legion of younger fans online, as well as on screen.
With his announcement of attendance at the St. Patricks's Day festival gaining 22,000 retweets so far, it's clear that he'll be a big draw at the parade on Saturday, and a great addition to the festivities. Plus, can you image Mark Hamill meeting President Higgins? A match made in heaven.
Image via YouTube