The Impractical Jokers star discusses why a classic Han and Leia moment means so much to him.
In My Favorite Scene, StarWars.com invites special guest writers to discuss which one scene or moment in the saga most resonates with them.
I was asked which scene from Star Wars is my favorite, and I’ve discovered that coming up with an answer isn’t as easy as I’d originally thought. Fine. Usually, nothing worth doing is easy, anyway. What surprised me was that it’s also an oddly more emotional decision than you might think. I mean, look, these movies have been with me my entire life, as close and as dear to my heart as family. Closer than some family, even. So anytime I felt sure that I had nailed what must be my favorite scene, an entirely different scene would pop into my head and argue its case for being the right selection. It’s a very difficult decision to make.
How could you easily pick that moment at the end of A New Hope when Han Solo flies in to save Luke’s bacon at the Death Star, hooting and laughing and blowing away TIE fighters over, say, the big reveal when Darth Vader tells Luke that he is his father. I mean, one shows us so much about the meaning of friendship and loyalty, but the other just blew my mind completely. I didn’t even know that there COULD be twists that like that in the movies and, by extension, life.
Eventually we all learn that life is filled with those rotten moments, don’t we? Sure, no mass murderers have claimed me as their son, but I have been cheated on and I’m not sure which is worse. Knives cut. Some deeper than others, sure, but they cut either way.
After a few weeks of soul searching on the matter, a thought occurred to me. An idea on how to whittle this task down, and it would take me a lot deeper than I originally thought this project would. I had to stop thinking about which scene matters to me most of all, and figure out which scene means the most to me NOW.
I had to accept that this is a moving target. As a kid, every time the Wookiee roared would have been my favorite part. Or when Threepio got frustrated with Artoo and berated him. That made me laugh. Classic tall-skinny-guy/short-fat-guy comedy.
Then as a teenager, it was all Han Solo and lightsabers. The action was what drew me. The laser fights and the swords crackling and the desperate heroics. I can’t tell you how much I wanted to be Han Solo when I was a teenager. Han got in over his head and got out of it with grit and wisecracks. He flew the coolest ship ever, his best friend was an alien badass, AND he got to kiss Princess Leia, which is something that I still look up to all these years later. Han Solo meant so much to me that when he died at the hands of his own son, it hit me in my chest like a punch from Tyson in his prime. I wish I was kidding. I grieved for weeks, walking around with an inarticulate rage. I went through the stages of grief, coming to acceptance only on my third viewing of The Force Awakens.
But I know I’m not alone there. Han meant that much to all of us. He was grieved for the world over. He was Han Solo, and that is enough of a description to explain how amazing he was.
I’m, sadly, not a teenager anymore. I’m not even in the same ballpark as a hip, young parent of a teenager. No. My category is “invisible to teenagers” and as such, my relationship to Star Wars has moved on. These days I’m more like Ben Kenobi or Yoda. I just want to chill out in my cave or swamp dwelling, eschewing adventure and excitement.
I crave not these things.
So where am I these days? At 40 years of age, what scene in Star Wars speaks to me?
I risk catching a lot of flak from the more manly men of us out there, but I’m going with the scene in Empire Strikes Back when they freeze Han in carbonite. Specifically, that moment when Leia tells Han that she loves him, and Han replies:
That, right there, aside from being about as cool as anything that has ever graced the silver screen, is what true love is.
Please understand, I’m not a hearts-and-flowers type of guy. Never have been. I don’t like grand romantic gestures. I don’t like the endless declarations of love, bouncing back between two people like an overused tennis ball. I have no use for Valentine’s Day, with its limited menu and cramped seating. Weddings to me are largely an ego-centric waste of time and money. Don’t get me started on the concept of a three-month-salary engagement ring. In general, people who need to just show everybody how in love they are seem inauthentic to me. The endless social media posts of “how great my husband/wife are” make me shake my head and snort -- snort, I say -- with derision. Of these things that have somehow become a modern measure of what love is, I’m not a fan. To me, real love doesn’t need this type of garbage to prove itself.
But I’m a fan of love! Who isn’t? I quite like falling in love and being in love and I like when other people are clearly and truly in love. It’s nice. Even if the end usually doesn’t match up to the beginning, it’s nice. The older I get, the more appreciation I have for the importance of meaningful connections between people. That’s why I’ve settled on that scene for this piece.
It’s a beautiful moment. Han doesn’t even reply back with “I love you,” does he? He just tells her that he knows. That he’s always known. Because what’s between Han and Leia is deeper than words.
In fact, there is a lot of love in that scene. Look at it. Chewbacca goes crazy and, even though he knows he’ll get shot down for it, he’s ready to wreck stormtrooper shop to save his friend from being frozen. It’s only when Han calms him down does Chewie stop, and thus survive.
And how does Han calm down Chewbacca? By telling Chewie that he needs to look after Leia. Han is asking Chewbacca to take care of the love of his life, just as Chewie has looked after him for all those years. Han isn’t even worried about himself. Han’s only thoughts are for his friends and for Leia.
That’s selflessness. That’s real love. That’s the real deep stuff that will endure though the years. And even though their later years weren’t exactly spent in marital bliss, Han and Leia never stopped loving each other. Never stopped belonging to each other. That’s the sort of thing I’m looking for. That, to me, is what love actually is. Lack of ego. Selflessness. Sacrifice. No social media posts, or diamond rings, or whatever scam we’ve been sold over the years to fool ourselves into thinking we’ve got something that nobody else does.
So, yeah, I have a LOT of scenes in the Star Wars saga that contend for my favorite, and I’m sure the second I send this essay out to the good people at StarWars.com I’ll think of another scene that I could put on that pedestal, but for the Brian Quinn of right now, that’s the scene.
Although when Lando flies the Millennium Falcon into the second Death Star, that’s pretty cool, too.
Read Brian Quinn's interview with StarWars.com here!
For the past six years, Brian Quinn has been on Impractical Jokers. Before that he was a fireman with the FDNY. Before that he wore lots of Star Wars pajamas. Recently, he's started wearing the pajamas again.