Star Wars: Terminally ill father gets to watch The Rise Of Skywalker early with his family at hospice
2 December 2019, 16:46 | Updated: 3 December 2019, 16:20
A terminally ill hospice patient has been granted his wish to see the new Star Wars film early from his bed.
The movie was couriered under top secret orders to the Rowans Hospice in Hampshire after a plea to help the father went viral on social media, with star Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker in the series, helping out.
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is the ninth and final episode in the long-running Skywalker saga, but it is not due for release in the UK until 19 December.
Within 24 hours of the plea last week, Disney chairman Bob Iger arranged for the early screening, and the unnamed patient was able to watch the film with his family by his side.
Rowans chief executive Ruth White told Sky News it was an "incredible experience" for him.
"He is extremely tired but apparently for the whole time the film was on he was completely with it," she said.
"My goodness was it worth it."
The plea started with a tweet referencing one of the most famous lines from the original Star Wars film from 1977 - "This is our most desperate hour" - and was picked up by Hamill, who wished the hospice "good luck" and urged staff to get in touch with Disney.
Ms White said the patient "couldn't believe it" when he was told that Hamill had responded.
"He was just really shocked," she said.
"I don't think it was in any of our wildest dreams that this would actually happen and become a reality."
A "minder" from Disney was there to ensure the film did not leave the room, Ms White said, and everyone who got to see it had to sign forms to say they would not reveal any details before the release date.
"His youngest son had to do a pinky promise," she said.
"Everyone had phones confiscated and there were lots of signatures on very legal-looking forms."
:: Listen to the Backstage podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
In a statement released by the hospice, the patient said he wanted to give the "biggest thank you to everyone that has helped to make this happen".
"During what is just a horrible situation to be in, you have helped to make some wonderful memories and bring some joy to my family. I am a huge Star Wars fan and what I am going through is completely dire.
"Then to top it all, I thought I wasn't going to see the film I have been waiting to see since 1977! I still can't believe it. The only way I can describe this to you is to say that this must be what it feels like to be told you have won a million pounds!"
Hamill tweeted afterwards: "Many thanks to @RobertIger & everyone at @Disney for making this happen! Hope the Rowan Hospice patient not only enjoyed the film, but gets an extra-special satisfaction in knowing he saw it before I did."