THE LAST JEDI SPEAKS
MARK HAMILL TALKS TO STARWARS.COM ABOUT THE ROLE THAT MADE HIM AN ICON AND HIS RETURN AS LUKE SKYWALKER IN STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI.
Mark Hamill needs little introduction. As Luke Skywalker, he was the heart of the original Star Wars trilogy, making us laugh, cry, and cheer as he depicted a heroís journey from boy to man. His range in the films is impressive: playing the straight man to a couple of anxious robots; acting as an impatient student opposite a small, strange, green puppet; emerging as a confident, powerful warrior who must save his fatherís soul. He made us believe in it all, and Star Wars would not be Star Wars without Hamillís gifts. (Heís also a supremely talented voice actor, and is the Joker for a generation of Batman fans.)
This has been a big year for Hamill. He was named a Disney Legend and GQís Icon of the Year. His turn in the critically-acclaimed Brigsby Bear garnered raves, and he even made a memorable cameo in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 reboot as P.T. Mindslap, a shady space-circus ringmaster. Plus, he has a new movie coming out in December, which you might have heard about. In celebration of the Star Wars iconís birthday today, StarWars.com spoke to Hamill about his early inspirations for acting, going to dinner with Sir Alec Guinness, and putting on Jedi robes again for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
StarWars.com: Iíd like to start off with an easy question. Luke is both Reyís father and Snoke, correct?
Mark Hamill: [Laughs] Wow, you are good at lobbing me softballs. Itís really weird, because they sent us already to London and Berlin on a press junket. And Iím saying to my wife, ďItís really odd going out to do press for a movie that youíre not supposed to talk about. What are we going to talk about? The weather?Ē But everybody was really nice. And you know, I can talk about everything from Episode I through Rogue One and Force Awakens, but I just really canít talk about Last Jedi in detail.
StarWars.com: All right. Iíll give you a pass on that one.
Mark Hamill: Thanks, what a kind man you are.
StarWars.com: So to go way back, when did you first know you wanted to be an actor?
Mark Hamill: You know, thatís a really interesting question. I didnít know specifically that I wanted to be an actor, but from my earliest memories I loved the comic strips that were in the newspapers that were delivered to my door. They made me want to read, and I fancied myself a cartoonist. I tried drawing, I idolized Charles Schultz. Then, when I was like five or six, I saw Clarence Nash doing Donald Duck. I had never thought about the human actors behind the voices of cartoon characters. A light bulb went off in my head. As I said when I accepted the Disney award, Walt Disney was one of the few studios that would draw back the curtain of secrecy and show you how movies were made. Now, I was a mad movie fan. The black-and-white King Kong I just loved as a kid. I read Famous Monsters and learned about stop-frame animation and so forth. So when I saw thereís the camera crew, thereís the construction people who build the sets, thereís wardrobe, gosh, thereís even caterers, I thought, ďIf I canít be in the show, at least I can be near the show.Ē Now, Iím the middle of seven children, so Iím not going to admit that I want to be in show business because Iíd get teased and ridiculed. But I knew all along that thatís the business I wanted to be in.
Any chance I got to be on stage [I took]. I hosted a variety show with my ventriloquist dummy in fifth grade. Iím telling you, itís just an unbelievable feeling to get laughs. With a dummy, you can insult people and blame it all on the dummy. ďThatís a terrible thing to say!Ē
I didnít know anybody in show business. I didnít know anybody who knew anybody in show business. You go to New York and try and get on the stage or go to Los Angeles trying to get into television and movies. I graduated high school in Yokohama, Japan. My dad was in the Navy. So coming back, I stopped in Los Angeles for my older brotherís wedding and wound up [pursuing acting].
Sometimes I think I got it backwards, because normally you start on the stage and then you branch out, come west and do television, or even television back in New York. But I didnít do Broadway until after I had done Star Wars. I wound up replacing in Amadeus. I did the national tour and then they moved me to Broadway. Iíve been on Broadway, I donít know, half a dozen, maybe seven times. Off-Broadway once. I did regional theater and, of course, the national tour. Thereís nothing like a live audience because you get the immediate feedback.
On something like The Last Jedi, itís such a massive production. The complexity of it is just mind-boggling to me, and how [director] Rian Johnson stays so even-tempered and amiable. I never saw him lose his temper, I never heard him curse or humiliate someone. You know, Iíve had directors that dress people down in front of the whole crew. I was so lucky to be able to have his guidance. Everyone says, ďOh, it must be so fun coming back to Star Wars.Ē Yeah, itís fun but itís also hugely intimidating and bordering on terrifying, because itís just almost too high profile for comfort. Brigsby Bear is a little film about little people with big ideas. Itís set in the suburbs. I mean, you can relate to it. With something like this, itís just a massive fantasy film.
I was on one set, and Iím not giving anything away because Rian has already talked about a casino sequence. The set, with 150 actors all dressed in prosthetics and puppetry and robots ó that set alone could probably easily have financed 100 Brigsby Bears. It was easily one of the most opulent sets Iíve ever been on. Iím fascinated not by just the scenes Iím in. When I had free time I would go and observe all these different actors and all these different scenes. The amount of talent that just is unrecognizedÖ Thatís why the credits run for an hour and a half. Because it takes thousands of people to successfully mount an epic of this size.
Mark Hamill Throws Fire On Speculation About Luke In The Last Jedi