Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill Debut Their Crackling Star Wars: The Last – Vanity Fair
Ever since they first partnered in 2014, Lucasfilm, Disney, and the fundraising platform Omaze have been bringing Star Wars fans incredible opportunities to both engage in new ways with the franchise and make a massive charitable impact. With the 40th anniversary of Star Wars looming in late May, the companies—united under the umbrella of Star Wars: Force for Change—have put together a super-sized campaign to raise money for Starlight Children’s Foundation and UNICEF. As The Last Jedi stars Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill put it in the announcement video above, the three fan experiences are a nod to the past, present, and future of Star Wars fandom.
The first prize to be announced—which is charmingly presented here by Hamill and Ridley—both honors the history of the franchise and may appeal to the Star Wars fan who is less enamored of the limelight. A one-night stay for two at Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, California, is alluring enough, but Star Wars: Force for Change is sweetening the deal with a rare tour of the ranch—including a peak into the Star Wars archive that houses original props, costumes and set pieces—and a private screening of Star Wars: A New Hope.
The second prize on offer is a nod to the current state of fandom, offering a trip to Los Angeles for the premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and an invite to the star-studded after-party. This is a prize for the more celebrity-enamored Star Wars fan. And, finally, for those Star Wars fans with their eyes on the future, Star Wars: Force for Change is offering up a trip to the set of the upcoming standalone Han Solo movie and a chance for a walk-on role in the film. New winners will be announced over the course of the four-week campaign, and in addition to the three winners who will experience either Skywalker, the premiere, or a chance at a walk-on role, one grand-prize winner will be selected to attend all three. You can see all of the details on the trio of prizes and how to enter here. And for those who don’t win the top prize, there’s still a good deal of limited-edition swag (like the Chewie T-shirt on the left) available at various levels of donation.
Speaking with VF.com over the phone, Omaze co-founder Ryan Cummins teased that the other two major prizes of the campaign will be unveiled over the course of several videos that promise the same “fun” and “shenanigans” Ridley and Hamill put on for this announcement. Cummins wouldn’t say, however, which cast members will be involved in the coming weeks. While all the fan experiences from Star Wars: Force for Change are intriguing in their own right, these Omaze/Lucasfilm videos offer a fascinating insight into some of the most alluring aspects of the reinvigorated franchise—from J.J. Abrams showing off a puppet (and, by extension, The Force Awakens’s return to practical effects) to Harrison Ford pouring on the Han Solo charm and reembracing the franchise he had once distanced him from.
So, what can we learn from this latest video? Well, hopefully, that Ridley and Hamill’s effervescent chemistry, seen here and teased during their Last Jedi training days, will shine through in the upcoming film. (Or, at the very least, that Mark will finally get some lines.)
Other equally charming pairings (the Star Wars cast is nothing if not charismatic) will be used to convince Star Wars fans to donate as the 40th-anniversary campaign kicks off, coinciding with this year’s Star Wars Celebration and concluding in a few weeks time on May 11th. But the familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away don’t have to work too hard to get these fans to donate in droves: the initial campaign that launched in 2014 brought in a staggering $4.26 million for UNICEF’s Innovation Labs. When asked why Star Wars lovers were perhaps more inclined to donate than any other fandom, Cummins had a convincing theory:
Star Wars is, essentially, a story about good. You already have a global audience that is mobilized and attracted to a story because of
the way it inspires them in their own lives and the themes of
literally fighting against the Dark Side for good. Then, suddenly, you
empower those fans with the opportunity both to celebrate that
property and to do so in a way that is directly impacting the lives of
children around the world—you can’t go wrong.
Though Omaze has seen donations from 175 countries throughout its many fan-based charitable campaigns, Cummins says that number shoots up significantly when the “truly global” phenomenon that is Star Wars comes into play. And for UNICEF, the benefactor of the first Star Wars: Force for Change initiative, the enduring impact may be even higher. UNICEF Innovation co-founder Chris Fabian has said it’s been difficult to get millennials interested and engaged in his company’s charitable efforts. That is, of course, until lightsabers and Wookies got involved.
And though this super-sized Star Wars: Force for Change campaign may seem ambitious, Cummins says Omaze has plans to reach even higher. The company that has mobilized the international fandom for Game of Thrones, Star Trek, and more, all for a variety of charitable causes, says that wherever there is intense love for something, there is a potential for doing good. Sounds like a sentiment George Lucas might approve of.