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May The Force Be With You: How Mark Hamill's voice is helping Ukrainians stay safe during air raids

Mark Hamill
Mark Hamill Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Theo FarrantAP
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Mark Hamill, known for his role as Luke Skywalker, is lending his voice to "Air Alert," a mobile app linked to Ukraine's air defense system. The app warns users of potential Russian missile, bomb, and drone attacks.

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Mark Hamill, the actor best known for his iconic role as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars franchise, has lent his voice to a mobile application designed to warn Ukrainians of incoming aerial bombardments from Russia. 

In a surreal moment amid an already surreal war, Hamill's calm and reassuring voice, with a Jedi knight's gravitas, urges people to seek shelter when air raid sirens start howling.

The app, called "Air Alert," is linked to Ukraine's air defence system and warns users of the potential threat of Russian missiles, bombs, and exploding drones. 

“Don’t be careless," Hamill’s voice advises. “Your overconfidence is your weakness.”

When the danger has passed, Hamill announces that "the air alert is over," signing off with the iconic line, "May the Force be with you."

The Ukrainian security app saving lives

Felipe Dana/AP
People use their phones while they gather in a metro station during an air raid alarm, in Kyiv, UkraineFelipe Dana/AP

Ajax Systems, a Ukrainian security systems manufacturer that co-developed the app "Air Raid", hopes Hamill's star power will encourage people outside Ukraine to download it — so they get a taste of the angst heaped on Ukrainians by nerve-shredding alarms and airborne death and destruction.

Oleksandr Berezianskyi, Ajax Systems research and development director, shares that "we have approximately 10 million installations of this app," and "half of the adult population of Ukraine uses our app to alert themselves about incoming aerial threats."

Having the voice of Luke Skywalker on board meant a great deal for us Ukrainians.

According to Berezianskyi, "having the voice of Luke Skywalker on board meant a great deal for us Ukrainians. It showed the support of a united free world for us."

AP Photo
Mark Hamill arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on 24 February, 2019.AP Photo

Hamill says he's admired - from afar, in California - how Ukraine has "shown such resilience ... under such terrible circumstances." 

Its fight against the Russian invasion, now in its second year, reminds him of the Star Wars saga, he says - of plucky rebels battling and ultimately defeating a vast, murderous empire. 

Voicing over the English-language version of the air-raid app and giving it his Star Wars touch was his way of helping out.

A fairytale about good versus evil is resonant with what’s going on in Ukraine

“A fairytale about good versus evil is resonant with what’s going on in Ukraine,” says Hamill. 

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.

“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.”

Video editor • Theo Farrant

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