Mark Hamill: 'Star Wars was perfect for its time when we were all cynical'
Star Wars actor Mark Hamill reminisces about the movie that turned him into a global star
Mark Hamill's involvement in Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been shrouded in mystery.
Not only is his character Luke Skywalker — the lead in the original Star Wars trilogy — notably absent from all of the film's posters, Hamill has not participated in any of the press tours.
The 64-year-old actor finally surfaced at the recent premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens to much fanfare and delight of Star Wars fans.
Here, he talks about reprising the role that made him a global icon and how director J.J. Abrams has rejuvenated the space saga.
Tell us about the table read and what the new generation brings.
I couldn’t really absorb it the way I wanted to, and yet I could envision all these characters. I met them at dinner a couple nights before and they all seemed very nice.
Andy Serkis was the only one I really knew of the new cast. (other new faces include Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac).
NEW LEADS: Daisy Ridley (L) and John Boyega headline Star Wars: The Force Awakens. PHOTO: WALT DISNEY STUDIO
But to see them bring these characters to life at the table read was a revelation. They’re all so right, and they’re all so new to me. I think they just couldn’t be better.
I should be asking them for advice because they are so much better than I could have imagined; each one in their own way.
REUNION: Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill played Han Solo and Luke Skywalker respectively in the original Star Wars trilogy. PHOTO: REUTERS
Did J.J. Abrams talk to you about his vision?
We talked about our view of what we liked about the films because I always thought the original trilogy clearly reflects a love for movies.
We talked about the snappy repartee and great humor. It seemed to combine so many elements of things that were instantly recognisable but put together in a new way.
Everything old is new again. So, rather than sitting down and laying out his vision for the film, we started talking about, not just the Star Wars film, but movies in general.
I just hit it off with J.J. instantly. He’s easy to talk to, fun to be around.
Is J.J. Abrams the perfect choice to re-ignite this franchise?
Like any good Disney animated film, these films appeal to the child in anyone. It doesn't matter what your chronological age is, it appeals to the child in you, whatever age you are.
And J.J. is the perfect example of someone who understands that and knows how to reinterpret it in the way he wants to.
We’re so lucky that they picked him. He’s a kid in so many ways. He’s not just a brilliant filmmaker and writer but also someone who can instantly relate to the material at hand.
I'm sure if you ask him, I would imagine that the original films were part of the reason he wanted to become a director and a writer.
Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope starring (from left) Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia and Harrison Ford as Han Solo. PHOTO: LUCASFILM
Do you think that they’ve made the world modern in a relatable sense?
It’s such a recognisable world. It’s a seamless recreation of that world that George (Lucas) recreated, and yet with all new situations and characters.
Many of these young people know so much more about these pictures than I do, because I have not seen them recently. I wasn’t one of those people who wanted to sit down and watch himself.
They’re honouring what has existed before, but coming up with new characters and new obstacles. New conflicts. And, like I say, the emphasis is very much on relatable characters, and that’s what I think is so smart about all of this. Now that they can create anything they want visually, what lasts in the end are people and characters that you care about.
Many audiences will have never seen the original film. What do you want them to take away?
I always thought there was a great undercurrent of optimism in these films. There’s a lack of cynicism there.
They reinforce what all great fables and fairytales tell you. Perseverance and purity of heart will help you succeed.
I hope they’re uplifting. I hope they have the humour they had. I hope they don’t take themselves too seriously.
I’ve got my fingers crossed that for a six-year-old who’s never seen them, that it’ll be great fun; scary but not too scary.
I hope it gives them a sense of adventure and the feeling that if they work really hard and give it their all, they can succeed as well. That’s what it’s all about.
One of the things that I thought was spectacular about the first trilogy was that Luke was nobody special, just a farm boy. He was somebody who wanted to do well, found the right teacher, followed the teachings, and was able to save the galaxy.
It’s exaggerated, and fanciful, but you felt it was an uplifting experience. It was perfect for its time when we were cynical people. It’s amazing that not much has changed in the real world. This is a chance to escape from all that and at the same time, learn a few life lessons.