Gulfport attorney Michael Hewes said he has been a fan of the “Star Wars” films since he was a child.
In fact, Hewes, who is also the author of the novel “Watermark,” was one of the first people to see “Rogue One,” the latest in the “Star Wars” saga.
But on Tuesday, Hewes, like millions of others, received some shocking news. Carrie Fisher, who played the beloved Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” universe, had died at age 60 after suffering an apparent heart attack while flying to Los Angeles from London on Dec. 23.
Although Diana, the Princess of Wales, will always be remembered as the “people’s princess,” Fisher will always be “Princess Leia” to the world.
“I was surprised when I heard she had died,” Hewes said Wednesday. “She lived an interesting life and for fans of the film, we have lost an icon — it’s really the first big celebrity hit for me.”
Fisher was one of three “Star Wars” actors who died in 2016, including Kenny Baker (R2D2) and Erik Bauersfeld (Admiral Ackbar).
“It was sad when I heard about Kenny Baker dying, but it was nothing like when I heard that Carrie Fisher had died —she had such a huge impact on my childhood,” he said.
Meeting Carrie Fisher
But while many are mourning Fisher’s passing, Hewes has a special memory of the actress that he will always cherish — meeting her during a visit to the “Good Morning America” set in New York.
Hewes attended a taping of the show in December 2015, a few weeks before the premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
“I was in New York for work and I was able to attend the show and it just happened to be the day that John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and R2D2 were on the show,” he said. “I was so excited to get my picture taken with R2D2.”
A royal audience
His favorite princess also happened to be there.
“I stuck around after the show to say ‘hi’ to (Pass Christian’s) Robin Roberts and Carrie was going to do an interview,” Hewes said. “I asked if I could stick around and they said ‘yes,’ so I got to watch the interview.”
And Hewes said Fisher lived up to her reputation as being entertaining.
“She was so funny and she had her dog (Gary) with her — it was just typical Carrie Fisher,” he said.
After the interview, Hewes said he was granted an audience with her majesty and Fisher was anything but regal.
“She was so nice and warm and friendly and she gave me this big bear hug like we had known each other forever,” he said. “She was very polite and chatty.”
Hewes took a photo of himself with Fisher after their brief conversation.
“It’s so weird to be talking about that memory in this context,” Hewes said. “But to have met someone who meant so much to me, it was a great experience.”
Fisher and New Orleans
Fisher was scheduled to appear at Wizard World Jan. 6-8 in New Orleans.
The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus will be hosting a second line parade, “She’s Royalty to Me,” on Friday in the Bywater area of New Orleans. The parade is scheduled to roll at 4 p.m