Back in 2012, the Star Wars galaxy was changed forever. In a private meeting with Mark Hamill and the late Carrie Fisher, creator George Lucas revealed that he was about to step down in favor of his chosen successor, Kathleen Kennedy. The future was bright for the franchise, with Kennedy already planning to launch a new Sequel Trilogy that would continue the story of our beloved Galaxy Far, Far Away.
Now, Mark Hamill has revealed that he didn't originally expect to be in the new sequels. What's more, when he was told Lucasfilm intended to feature the return of Luke Skywalker, he didn't originally want to rejoin the franchise at all.
Mark Hamill's Behind-The-Scenes Tale
Speaking to the New York Times, Mark Hamill explained that neither he nor Fisher expected to appear in the Sequel Trilogy. Just as the prequels had focused on Anakin Skywalker and the previous generation, the two stars assumed the sequels would move on to the next generation. Their time was over, and they assumed Lucas was simply doing them a courtesy by keeping them in the loop.
Lucas blew their minds when he said their characters would be included if they wanted to play them. Carrie Fisher's reaction was immediate, and Hamill describes her slapping the table and declaring, "I'm in!" Amused, Hamill told her that she was supposed to keep up a poker face, and said he'd think about it.
Surprisingly, according to Hamill he wan't convinced this was a smart career move. "I was just really scared," he explained to the Times, and wondered if he could really catch lightning in a bottle twice. Worse still, the veteran actor was all too aware how many years had passed since the Original Trilogy. Would fans really accept 50-, 60-, and 70-year-old versions of their beloved characters? Mulling it over, Hamill realized that he had an easy escape: there was no way Harrison Ford would return, right?
"He’s too old and too rich and too cranky," Hamill told the New York Times. "He's not going to do this."
To his surprise, Ford said yes. And that put Mark Hamill in a spot. If he said no, he'd become the only star of the Original Trilogy not to return. "I’d be the most hated man in nerd-dom," he observed pithily.
Mark Hamill's Sequel Trilogy Experience
Hamill wasn't happy with the exercise regime he was forced to go through for The Force Awakens, not least when his role was cut down to size. J. J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan realized their script just couldn't accommodate Luke's storyline, and in the end Hamill's role was cut down to a brief scene in which he turns around and lowers his hood. Irritated, Hamill wondered, "Why are they training me to turn and remove a hood? I could be the size of Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now, who’s going to know?"
As time passed, Hamill has clearly found his peace with The Force Awakens. He's no longer irritated about his minor role, joking that his brief appearance was set up all the way through the film. That said, it doesn't mean he's entirely happy with Luke's portrayal in The Last Jedi. Again, repeating comments he's been making over the course of the last year, he told the New York Times that he wasn't originally a fan of the character arc:
That’s the hard part. You don’t want to admit how possessive you’ve become. There are times where you go, ‘Really? That’s what they think of Luke? I’m not only in disagreement – I’m insulted.’ But that’s the process and you thrash it all out.
It wouldn't be the first time Hamill has disagreed with the direction his character has taken. He was never a fan of Lucas's decision to make Luke and Leia siblings, for example.
There's a sad irony to Hamill's role. Although he was the last one to sign up for the Sequel Trilogy, he's also the last man standing from the originals. Harrison Ford's Han Solo was killed off in The Force Awakens, and Carrie Fisher sadly passed away last year. Lucasfilm is still scrambling to redraft the script of Episode IX in the wake of her tragic death, and Hamill is clearly still feeling the pain keenly. As he notes sadly, Episode IX was meant to be her film. "Her timing was perfect," he observes mournfully, "except in this case."
So that's how the cast of the Original Trilogy returned for the Star Wars sequels. If Harrison Ford had said no, then so would Mark Hamill; he only agreed because his old colleague took him by surprise. Now, it seems that Hamill's Luke Skywalker is the titular "Last Jedi," pretty much starring in the film. On December 15th, 2017, we'll find out if Hamill really has managed to catch lightning in a bottle twice.
[Source: New York Times]