Mark Hamill has offered his Star Wars persona to provide familiarity and strength to Ukrainians amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
The 71-year-old actor famously starred as the franchise’s lead Jedi, Luke Skywalker, in the original film trilogy and has cameos in the more recent sequels.
Now, Hamill is bringing his character’s iconic voice to Air Alert, a downloadable app linked to Ukraine’s air defence system that sounds air raid sirens and alerts the people of Ukraine of possible incoming Russian missiles, bombs and deadly exploding drones.
“Attention. Air raid alert,” Hamill’s voice says. “Proceed to the nearest shelter.”
He also uses well-known Star Wars quotes: “Don’t be careless. Your overconfidence is your weakness.”
When the dangers from the skies pass, Hamill announces via the app that “the air alert is over.” He then signs off with an uplifting: “May the Force be with you.”
The actor says he’s admired – from afar, in California – how Ukraine has “shown such resilience… under such terrible circumstances”.
The country’s fight against the Russian invasion, now in its second year, reminds him of the Star Wars saga, he says – of plucky rebels battling a terrifying, invasive foe.
“A fairy tale about good versus evil is resonant with what’s going on in Ukraine,” Hamill said in an interview with The Associated Press. “The Ukrainian people rallying to the cause and responding so heroically… It’s impossible not to be inspired by how they’ve weathered this storm.”
Hamill is also raising funds to buy reconnaissance drones for Ukrainian forces on the front lines. He autographed Star Wars-themed posters that are being raffled off.
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“Here I sit in the comfort of my own home when in Ukraine there are power outages and food shortages and people are really suffering,” he said. “It motivates me to do as much as I can.”
Bohdan Zvonyk, a 24-year-old app user who lives in the repeatedly struck western city of Lviv, says he chose Hamill’s voiceover rather than the Ukrainian setting because he is trying to improve his English. He’s a Star Wars fan, too.
“Besides,” he said, “we could use a little bit of the power that Hamill wishes us.”
Hamill is pleased that the sci-fi saga is again transporting people, even if just temporarily, to its galaxy far, far away.
“It does inspire people,” he said. “Everyone flashes back to being six years old again. And if the movie can help people get through hard times, so much the better.”
Additional reporting from Associated Press.