Star Wars actor Mark Hamill read a psychiatrist’s letter declaring suggestions Donald Trump was mentally ill as an “insult” to those with health issues, when he appeared at a British literary event’s US debut.
Stephen Fry, days after announcing his battle with prostate cancer, was also among the stars to address the sold-out Ace Hotel theatre in Los Angeles on Monday.
It was the first Stateside appearance of the Letters Live format, which was launched in the UK in 2013 and sees actors read historic missives of importance.
Others to read were Jake Gyllenhaal, Anjelica Huston and Garbage singer Shirley Manson, who read her own letter to her niece urging her to tackle sexism and to do it “like a girl”.
Luke Skywalker actor Hamill read a letter to The New York Times by Professor Allen Frances, the author of a mental health assessment manual, as he disputed his colleagues’ at-distance diagnosis of the US president.
“He may be a world-class narcissist, but this doesn’t make him mentally ill, because he does not suffer from the distress and impairment required to diagnose mental disorder,” Hamill read.
Mark Hamill, Catherine Keener and Danny Huston reading the hilarious Star Trek memos pic.twitter.com/Cb4Jolosa4— Letters Live (@letterslive) February 27, 2018
“Mr Trump causes severe distress rather than experiencing it and has been richly rewarded, rather than punished, for his grandiosity, self-absorption and lack of empathy.
“It is a stigmatising insult to the mentally ill, who are mostly well-behaved and well-meaning, to be lumped with Mr Trump, who is neither.”
Scottish musician Manson first asked the audience to “forgive my grandiosity” for reading a letter penned by herself, saying to laughter that she had misunderstood the format.
Addressing the letter to her niece Georgie, she said that as she grows older she will notice various forms of sexism, such as being told she fights, runs and behaves “like a girl”.
Shirley Mason of @garbage reading a empowering and heartfelt letter to her niece, "You do everything you d**n well choose and DO IT LIKE A GIRL...Fight for your rights and demand equality!" @letterslive in support of #womenforwomeninternational pic.twitter.com/1cWk7J4JXQ— Women for Women Intl (@WomenforWomen) February 27, 2018
“So Georgie, my darling, what I’m trying to say to you is this: You do everything you damn well choose, and carry on doing it just like a girl,” she said.
Fry read a letter from Brideshead Revisited author Evelyn Waugh as well as one from Archibald Clark Kerr during his tenure as ambassador to the Soviet Union during the Second World War.
James Corden, Isla Fisher, Jarvis Cocker, Ian McShane and Catherine Keener were also among those to read, while Mercury Prize-winner Benjamin Clementine closed the night with a song.
Profits from ticket sales at the event organised by Net-a-Porter will be donated to charity Women for Women International and non-profit 826LA.