The director went on to tease the “Star Wars” icon for his early role on “General Hospital,” where he played Kent Murray on the 1972 season.
“Who among us can forget how Kent, along with his sister Carol Murray, who were forced to live with their aunt after the death of their father? Just four years later, the nation was thrown into collective confusion when Kent was seen holding a lightsaber,” Abrams joked during his speech. “Yes, we loved Mark in ‘Star Wars’; he was incredible, he and his sister Princess Leia. But the truth is, all we could think was, ‘What about your real sister Carol Murray?’ Mark apparently made a few more ‘Star Wars’ movies, but never returned to ‘General Hospital,’ or as many of us call it, ‘Gen Ho.'”
On a more serious note, Abrams said that working with Hamill on “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “was a dream and a very odd thing directing an idol. It could have gone one of two ways, and with Mark, it went the right way.”
Hamill was one of several honorees, including Catherine O’Hara, Paula Malcomson, and Barry Keoghan, at the 13th annual Oscar Wilde Awards. The ceremony was organized by the US-Ireland Alliance, which celebrates Irish contributions to entertainment, and was emceed by Abrams at his Bad Robot headquarters. Colin Farrell, Martin Short, Diane Keaton, and Kathy Griffin were also in attendance. The Irish band The Academic performed at the event.
In his acceptance speech, Hamill, whose father is Irish, spoke about learning about Ireland through movies and his experience shooting “The Force Awakens” there. He also teased, “I’m sort of pessimistic in thinking I don’t really deserve an award like this, but the pendulum swings. I’m also delusional enough to believe that there will be an unprecedented write-in vote and I will win an Oscar this Sunday.”
Short, who was honored at last year’s ceremony, presented his friend O’Hara with the honor after a short stand-up routine, in which he joked, “It does say a lot about America when people of different white backgrounds can gather together. It’s encouraging, you feel hope,” and “this year’s Oscar Wilde Award winner is a good predicator for next year’s Oscar In Memoriam package.” He went on to call O’Hara an “outspoken climate-change denier” and said, “I bet I have seen ‘Home Alone’ over 500 times, and every time I see it, I always say the same thing: ‘Catherine, you know we could watch something else.'” On a serious note, Short called her, “a breathtakingly brilliant, staggering original who has and continues to inspire.”
In her speech, O’Hara said she was a “third-generation Irish Catholic, Canadian, American — in that order.” She also pointed out the desire of many people to be Irish when they’re not. “No nation’s holiday is celebrated by more people who have no valid reason to celebrate than Saint Patrick’s Day and it is a religious holy day, it honors a saint,” she said.
Farrell presented “Dunkirk” star Keoghan with his honor, calling him “the true heart and soul of the film.” “Ray Donovan’s” Malcomson said in her speech that after moving to America at age 18 from Ireland, “I’ve been able to live the American dream, so I can only hope that the American dream is available for those that reach out and grab it the way I did, I’m not so sure right now. I’m always going to be an Irishwoman, but without America I would be f—ed.”
Abrams also recognized the multiple Oscar nominees of Irish descent who are looking to bring home a statuette this weekend, including Saoirse Ronan, Daniel Day-Lewis, “Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri” director Martin McDonagh, “Victoria & Abdul’s” Consolata Boyle, and “The Breadwinner’s” Nora Twomey.