“These are the drones you’re looking for,” reads an appeal for donations to a Ukraine fundraising effort next to a picture of none other than legendary “Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill.
Since Hamill was tapped as an ambassador for United24’s “Army of Drones” campaign earlier this fall, a lot has happened: He had a Zoom call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, 500 drones have already been sent to Ukraine and a new effort to raise funds toward 10 reconnaissance drones has been launched.
“The fact that they thought I could help. Who am I to say no?” the actor famed for his portrayal as Luke Skywalker told The Associated Press during a Zoom call last week.
As one of the most famous celebrities in the galaxy, Hamill felt he has a responsibility to use his voice to help those in need.
“What do I have that is special? And that is, in this case, an ability to reach people,” he said from his house in Malibu, California, clad in a flannel shirt and petting his rescue dog Trixie.
In a late September press release announcing the partnership, Zelenskyy was quoted as thanking Hamill for supporting Ukrainians since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
“For Ukrainians, this means a lot. As in ‘Star Wars,’ good will triumph over evil and light will overcome darkness,” Zelenskyy was quoted as telling Hamill. “With you in the team, there’s no other way around it.”
Hamill ascribed the sci-fi franchise’s resonance to its symbolism.
“Essentially it was a fairy tale for young children and it enabled George (Lucas) to tell a story that was very clear cut, where the villains were the villains. The heroes were the heroes,” Hamill told the AP. “And it was very clearly defined to teach a morality tale about perseverance and resistance towards an oppressive regime.”
Hamill’s latest effort for United24, a crowdfunding campaign launched by Zelenskyy, and its “Army of Drones” initiative focuses on RQ-35 Heidrun drones, which Hamill described as sophisticated and “benign.”
“They’re not lethal. They are the eyes in the sky and protect the borders and the people of Ukraine,” he said. People can also opt to “dronate” if they already have a drone in their possession.
This is not Hamill’s first foray into current affairs.
Now 71, Hamill’s passion for politics began during the 1960 presidential contest between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
“I have always been interested in government and politics, since before I could vote,” explains Hamill recalling his early disagreement with his dad’s political views.
“I said to my mom: ‘How can dad be for Nixon? Kennedy is so much better,’” he said. “And I had no political view, I just thought when I looked at Kennedy, he was beaming with positive energy.”
Nixon, on the other hand, looked like a “scary teacher” he didn’t like, he recounted while delivering an impression of the jowl-shaking late president.
He’s very vocal on social media when it comes to American politics and has actively campaigned for Democrats in the U.S. President Joe Biden even wrote him a letter, which he read for the first time during the Zoom call: “Oh. This is the first time I’ve seen it, my wife has told me about it.”
But regardless of the accolades and the fancy stationary from the most famous house in the U.S., Hamill isn’t striving for recognition.
“I don’t do it for this reason,” he said.
Inchingolo reported from London. Follow her on Twitter at @ThatsSoMartina.