Mark Hamill On His Star Wars Audition And Playing Luke Skywalker Again

"Later, I got a call from my agent who said 'you made the cut'," said Star Wars' Mark Hamill

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Mark Hamill On His Star Wars Audition And Playing Luke Skywalker Again

Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridley at Star Wars: The Last Jedi premiere (AFP)

Tokyo: 

Highlights

  1. "It's weird to promote a movie you can't talk about," said Mark Hamill
  2. He first played Luke Skywalker in 1977
  3. Luke Skywalker "is in a much different frame of mind," he said
At the Star Wars: The Last Jedi junket in Tokyo, I got to chat with Mark Hamill. It was a dream come true. He walked into the room with a smile and sat comfortably on the couch with his legs folded and instantly started talking about the film. He breathes Star Wars, he loves answering all the questions and does feel for the reporters because they would want to know something about the plot and that's what he cannot share. Hamill has done the Q&A drill a zillion times since 1977, when he first played Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: A New Hope. Can't get him to say anything more than what he would want to. After all, his Star Wars experience is more than my age.

Q: Do you remember your first ever audition of Star Wars from 1977?

Mark Hamill: I do absolutely. The first time you go, there are about 80 to 100 people there, you can tell who is up for Luke and who is up for Han because there were all these teenaged guys and there were other leading men. I went in and Brian De Palma who was interviewing for Carrie - the horror film based on the Stephen King novel - and George Lucas was there. He never spoke, so I was thinking and asking myself, is he Brian De Palma's assistant? We saw no script, and they just said 'tell us a little bit about yourself.' Later, I got a call from my agent who said 'you made the cut, you are going for the next round and this time they are going to send you a scene,' not the whole script - just a scene. So I get this scene where we are going towards the Death Star.



Q: How has Luke Skywalker changed over the years?

Mark Hamill: He is in a much different frame of mind. He is a different Luke than we have seen before. The one thing that I love about this character is that he is not the same way twice. When you first saw him he was a teenager; he was nothing special, and that's a very important aspect of the character. Young people can look at that and say, 'I can do that!' He is not physically imposing, he is not particularly intelligent, he is average intelligent. So he is very relatable. Luke is the perfect entry level in the Star Wars universe for children. I say that because children would feel comfortable around me. They have seen a lot of people in their lives that are like me. He changes throughout the first movie until he discovers his inner mystical powers. Each time you see him; he progresses to a different kind of Luke.

Q: You said Star Wars is like a fairy tale...

Mark Hamill: Yes, it's very much like a fairy tale as opposed to science fiction film. It has science fiction elements, but there is a princess, a farm boy, a wizard... I mean, really! It has great humour; most science fiction films are pretty dry and straightforward. When I read Star Wars I laughed, it was hilarious. These robots were fighting over whose fault it is. We rescue the princess and risk our lives, and the first thing she complains about is, 'You came in that!' Everyone can relate to it. When we were in school, we asked our dad to drop us a block away because we were embarrassed about the car he drove. These films have human elements throughout. It was quite ahead of its time to have a female character that is far away from a damsel in distress. She was like, 'You call this a plan?' and she took the gun and took over her own rescue.

Q: What was your reaction to the script of The Last Jedi?

Mark Hamill: My first reaction was, 'Are you kidding me? Is this the time for Jedi to end? This is not the Luke I knew!' Rian (director Rian Johnson) said, 'Well, we want to push the envelope and give people what they don't expect.' I said, 'I could see him being traumatized by what happened and for a year or so, but a Jedi doesn't give up. I don't know what your definition of Jedi is but this is not my definition of Jedi.' See, at the end of the day, it's my job to take the script and do the best I can to understand the director's vision. I had to resist that because there is George Lucas' Star Wars and now there is this next generation of directors - JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson. They were little boys when the first film came out, and now they are in-charge, the last thing they want to hear is, 'Well, in my day, blah blah...' They should be able to do the films they want to do. That's the way it should be. Life goes on, there is going to be a new generation, I am just happy to be back.

Q: Your audition video from your first Star Wars film is on the Internet, have you seen it lately?

Mark Hamill: Yes, I saw it while we're doing The Force Awakens. I was home one day, and the family was out during the day, the had gone shopping, and I was watching something on the computer, and I guess I watched Back To The Future. Then the internet suggested a video, which was the screen test of Star Wars. I was like, 'do I have the nerve to watch it after all these years later?' I told myself if I don't watch it now, I never will. Then I thought if it were horrible I just wouldn't bring it up with anyone. So I watched auditions of other actors first, like Kurt Russell's, and then I finally watched mine. I was just going to watch and not comment on the material. Sometimes your desire to get the part is so much that you push too hard; there is a neediness that comes across, which is unappealing. Here it looked like I didn't care. I saw other auditions and I would like to say that every one of them would have been a great Luke.

Q: Can you tell us anything about The Last Jedi?

Mark Hamill: I can't reveal anything, you will know everything in less than a week. It's weird to promote a movie you can't talk about. It's a paradox. But I will tell you something. My son came up with some ideas on how Luke should be after all these years and I shared it with Rian. He said, 'we can't do anything that's been done before, nothing from video games or the books.' So there will be things you have never seen in Star Wars films before.

Q: Tell us about your new Star Wars director, Rian Johnson - how is he to work with?

Mark Hamill: The most important thing is that I trust Rian. He is a wonderful person, I have never heard him raise his voice, never heard him curse. Never heard him humiliate someone or make anyone feel bad. Someone asked me if I had anything bad to say about Rian, I said, 'yes, he is too nice! He is so nice that I was tempted to take advantage of him.' He is a remarkable storyteller and a gifted filmmaker. I have worked with some real terrors; I was scared to go to work some days. They humiliate you, and they break you down. I won't take names, but I'll tell you, I was doing this television movie and I hated this guy so much that one day I just told him, 'nothing is worth this, this is pure hell, coming to work and listening to your abuses.' I said all this and went off to my trailer van, and I was shaking, waiting to be fired. The assistant director came and said, 'we are ready for your shot.' He said the director loved me standing up to him. I was like, 'Oh! I won't try that again then!' Maybe that was his technique to push me so that I become better in the part, but it was just awful. If you can't have fun doing your job, then you are in the wrong business, and if you can't have fun doing Star Wars, then there is something seriously wrong with you.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi co-stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac. It releases on Friday.
 

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