(Kyiv) “Watch out. Air raid alert,” came a voice worthy of a Jedi. “Go to the nearest shelter. »
It’s a surreal moment in an already surreal war: the deep but soothing voice of actor Mark Hamill, the Luke Skywalker of “Star Wars”, urges people to take cover whenever Russia triggers another aerial bombardment over Ukraine.
This Hollywood sci-fi intrusion into the grim everyday realities of the war in Ukraine comes from Mark Hamill’s decision to lend his voice to “Air Alert” – an app tied to Ukraine’s air defense system.
When the air raid sirens start blaring, the app also warns Ukrainians that deadly Russian missiles, bombs and explosive drones could be coming.
“Don’t be reckless,” advises Mr. Hamill’s voice. “Your overconfidence is your weakness. »
The actor says he admires — from afar, in California — how Ukraine has “shown such resilience in such terrible circumstances. »
The country’s resistance to the Russian invasion, now in its second year, reminds him of the “Star Wars” saga, he says – brave rebels who fight and ultimately prevail against a vast murderous empire. Lending his voice to the English version of the app was his way of helping, he explained.
“A fairy tale of good versus evil resonates with what is happening in Ukraine,” Hamill said in an interview with The Associated Press. The people of Ukraine rallied to the cause and responded so heroically… It is impossible not to be inspired by how they weathered this storm. »
When the dangers in the sky pass, Mr. Hamill announces on the app that “air alert is over. He then launches the famous line: “May the Force be with you.” »
Mr. Hamill is also fundraising to purchase reconnaissance drones for Ukrainian forces. He has autographed “Star Wars” themed posters that are raffled off.
“Here I sit in the comfort of my own home when in Ukraine there are power cuts and food shortages and people are really suffering,” he said.
“It motivates me to do everything I can. »
Although the app also has Ukrainian-language warnings, voiced by a woman, some Ukrainians prefer Mark Hamill to deliver the bad news.
On the worst days, the sirens and the application sound at several hours of the day and night. Sometimes these are false alarms, but often they are real bombings that prove fatal.
Bohdan Zvonyk, a 24-year-old app user who lives in Lviv, a repeatedly hit western city, says he chose Mr. Hamill’s voice because he’s trying to improve his English . He’s also a “Star Wars” fan.
“Besides,” he said, “we could use some of the force Hamill wants us to use.” »
Olena Yeremina, a 38-year-old businesswoman in the capital, Kyiv, said Mark Hamill’s wishes initially made her laugh. Now, she says, her humor gives her strength.
“That’s a very cool phrase for this situation,” she testified. I wouldn’t say I feel like a Ukrainian Jedi, but sometimes that phrase reminds me to straighten my shoulders and keep working. »