Han Solo is back from the dead. Well, kind of.

Harrison Ford surprised Star Wars Celebration fans when he took the stage at the 40th anniversary panel Thursday in Orlando, joining his costar Mark Hamill on stage for a mini-reunion that had the crowd on its feet.

"I can't believe we managed to keep this a secret, considering you landed your plane on I-4," moderator Warwick Davis teased Ford, in light of the actor's recent airplane fiasco. "It was a good landing," the scruffy nerf herder joked.

When asked how playing the dirty, rotten, intergalactic scoundrel has affected his life, Ford deadpanned, "It's made no difference in my life whatsoever," before offering a more serious answer.

"It was the beginning of an incredible ride. It wasn't the very beginning, but that was also with George [Lucas] -- a part in 'American Graffiti.' Then I went back to carpentry work and, then, along came George who put me to work in an extraordinary event that we all celebrate. It's been a good ride."
Even after Ford's (presumably) last appearance as Han Solo in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" -- barring any flashbacks or Force ghost appearances, of course -- the performance has remained so iconic that the franchise is bringing him back by way of Alden Ehrenreich in the still-untitled Han Solo prequel film.

"You could have the most brilliant cast in the world, but they [referring to himself, Hamill, and the late Carrie Fisher] had a story to tell," he said. "And the story we had to tell was more than sufficient, it was full of humor and emotion and conflict."

He continued, "It was a brilliant invention of a mythology that has sustained interest for over 40 years. Any actor without a story to tell might as well go home. It was a brilliant opportunity."

The reunion between Ford, Hamill, and the other actors on the stage, including Peter Mayhew, also proved to be an emotional reminder of the one crucial figure missing from this picture.

"Carrie Fisher, I've said many times now, she really is a modern woman," Lucas said in tribute to the late star.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Movie Poster
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
PG-132015
Based on 54 critics

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