July 13, 2012 at 05:30 PM EDT

That disturbance in the Force you sense is legions of Star Wars fans trembling in anticipation.

That’s because EW can exclusively announce that Mark Hamill will be a special guest in attendance at Star Wars Celebration VI, the largest convention on the planet for fans of that Galaxy Far, Far Away, during the weekend of August 23-26 in Orlando. “At Celebration, it feels like family,” says Hamill, who previously appeared on stage with George Lucas and Carrie Fisher at Celebration V in 2010. “There was so much love in the room for all of the characters, for the movies, for the Empire that George has built. I really felt at home.”

At that event, Hamill introduced an alternate opening to Return of the Jedi. This time around, Lucasfilm is guarding details like a Hutt clutching his stash of spice, but it is confirmed that the man forever known to fans as Luke Skywalker will participate in a “stage show.” EW caught up with Hamill about the 35th anniversary of Star Wars, how he’s seen fandom — and his own relationship to Luke — change during that time, how he wanted to return to the role of Luke Skywalker in a fourth Star Wars film, and what he thought when he heard that George Lucas is retiring. Check out his full Q&A, plus some exclusive art that’s been created for the fest, after the break.

EW: The fans gave you a rapturous reception at Celebration V in 2010. Does it ever amaze you that they’re still so passionate?

MARK HAMILL: No, I totally get it. I remember when I was eight years old and saw King Kong on TV for the first time, and I became obsessed with that movie. It was so tragic to me. The poor animal brought to Manhattan and shot down by planes. But it never ceases to amaze me just how passionate Star Wars fans are. It’s actually moving. At the last Celebration I spoke before an auditorium full of people and I could just feel the affection and the positive feelings that they were exuding. It was actually moving. I remember thinking, “I’m not worthy,” because Star Wars is so much bigger than all of us. It’s not something that I’m reminded of every day, so to see that fandom in all its raw glory was overwhelming.

EW: How have you seen Star Wars fandom evolve since A New Hope came out 35 years ago?

Well, the biggest thing is just how the material involved has expanded so much, with the prequels, novels, games, comic books…it goes on and on. Meaning that the fans outclass me when it comes to the lore. My son now knows more about the minutia than I do. When I was involved with Star Wars, I was very interested in all the backstories, and I used to pepper George with all kinds of questions about anything that crossed my mind, because I was very, very into it. But when the job came to an end, I had to move on. I didn’t flush my memory banks, but I didn’t continue to follow it as closely as the really passionate fans have. So I don’t try to fool them into thinking I’m an expert anymore. I’ll mention the scene where the medical droids are working on me, and “2-1B!” they’ll scream.

NEXT: Hamill shares his favorite moments from the original trilogy and how he always wanted to make a fourth Star Wars film.

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