When Mark Hamill auditioned for Star Wars he thought ‘nobody talks like this’

Mark Hamill has earned this moment in his career. He shot to fame in the 70s/80s for playing Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, only for people to struggle to see him as anyone else. A few decades passed (during which he worked on Broadway, had various bits of Film & TV and did lots of voice work), and Hamill was ready to come back to Luke, as a man who’s lived a full life, when J.J. Abrams and Disney revived the franchise with a vengeance. We can see him now really relishing his comeback, whether that’s in unexpected perks from the latest turns in Star Wars or in his whip-smart comments on twitter. And now he’s having more fun, getting to play father to comedian Bert Kreischer in The Machine, a movie based on Kreischer’s comedy that was released over Memorial Day weekend. Appearing on CBS News to promote The Machine, Hamill spoke with Tracy Smith about getting older and the shadow cast by Luke Skywalker:

Young at heart: “Well, I called myself an elderly recluse!” Hamill laughed. “It’s one of those things where when you say your age out loud – ‘cause I’m 71 – I go, Really?!? That’s older than I ever expected to be!” And how does he feel inside? “Much younger,” he said.

On auditioning for Star Wars: When he auditioned with future co-star Harrison Ford back in 1976, he says, he wasn’t sure whether or not to play George Lucas’ dialogue straight: “The problem was they didn’t give us a whole script. And yeah, I couldn’t figure it out, is this, like, a send-up of Flash Gordon or whatever? You couldn’t tell, ‘cause nobody talks like this! And I was asking Harrison, ‘cause he had been in ‘American Graffiti.’ I said, ‘You know George. Is this, like, a joke? Should we send it up? Make fun of it?’ ‘Whatever. Get it done.’ So, he was no help!”

‘The Luke Skywalker is not to be being the Mozart’: But by 1981 Hamill wanted to shake his Luke Skywalker image, and started doing Broadway shows, including the role of Mozart in “Amadeus.” He met with director Milos Forman, who was planning the film version: “I said, ‘You know, I’d really love a chance at playing Mozart.’ And he said, ‘Oh, no, no, no. The Luke Skywalker is not to be being the Mozart.’ So, I thought, well, at least he’s honest!”

On whether he’s accepted that he’ll always be remembered as Luke Skywalker: “Yeah. Well, I don’t care,” Hamill said. “I mean, the truth of the matter is, I never really expected to be remembered for anything. I just wanted to make a living doing what I liked. And I thought, ‘Well, it could be worse. I could be, like, known as being the best actor who ever played Adolf Hitler, you know?’ At least Luke is an admirable fellow!”

[From CBS News]

So the two main takeaways I get from reading this are ‘George Lucas’ writing was so bad that he couldn’t tell if it was meant to be a joke and Hamill’s way of dealing with forever being thought of as Luke Skywalker is ‘at least I’m not known for playing Hitler.’ Ok no No NO, I’m NOT really saying that myself and I wouldn’t dare suggest that’s what Hamill meant! Star Wars has a formidable following and I would never, ever want to besmirch it or them. All I am saying, is that the arrangement of words that fell out of his mouth may appear, to some others, as coming to those points.

Moving on, kind of, this interview did make me reconsider something from our Harrison Ford coverage last week. Hamill spoke to Esquire for their cover story on Ford, where he described Ford taking the lead on the original Star Wars publicity tour and said “I can’t tell you how many times in my life and my career when I’ve asked myself, WWHD?” It sounds like a life mantra, right? Well, reading this interview I started to wonder if maybe it’s not so inspirational. Maybe it’s literal? Cause Hamill literally asked Ford for advice on working with Lucas and the script (since, you know, Ford had already worked with Lucas) and Ford gave him NOTHING. So yeah, now I think it’s a literal, Sisyphean question. What would Harrison do? Cause Lord knows he won’t tell anyone when asked directly.

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Photos credit: JPI Studios / Avalon, Backgrid and Getty

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

11 Responses to “When Mark Hamill auditioned for Star Wars he thought ‘nobody talks like this’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. JanetDR says:

    I had the biggest crush back in the day 💖 I love him more now for his Instagram! Such a great guy.
    I don’t doubt for a moment that Harrison was not helpful, but it seems like he warmed up as they got to know each other.

    • BW says:

      I also had the biggest crush on Mark back in 1977, and not Harrison. And older and bearded Mark is working for me, too, now that I’m older. I think he would have liked to have done more diverse roles, and he was stereotyped out of them. But he’s made a great living off the voice work, and now he’s had a great comeback since the newest StarWars stuff, and he’s getting to do more fun things. He’s happy that at least he’s known for playing a really good guy.

      • Becks1 says:

        Yeah, I think he’s made peace with this being the main role he is known for. Harrison Ford obviously had a much more diverse career but there are worse things than being known forever as Luke Skywalker. I also thought he was great in the Last Jedi, he was obviously the best part in that movie.

    • SadieMae says:

      I was 11 when The Empire Strikes Back came out, so I was just going into my boy-crazy years. I cut a photo of Mark Hamill out of Tiger Beat magazine, covered it carefully with clear packing tape so it wouldn’t get damaged, and then carried it around in my purse so I could take it out and just look at it sometimes. Le sigh.

      What’s funny to me now is that as an adult, I watch those movies and Hamill is a cute kid but Harrison Ford is … well … Harrison Ford. But at the time, he was in his 30s and seemed like somebody’s dad to me – it didn’t even occur to me that he was hot! But Lordy Lordy, he sure was. When Carrie Fisher died, she had just published The Princess Diarist, which revealed her affair with Ford during the filming of A New Hope … and I saw a quote from someone who joked, “Carrie went out like we’d all like to go out … just having told the entire world that she f****d Harrison Ford in his prime.” Ha!

      I also had an autographed photo of John Schneider as Bo in The Dukes of Hazzard. I remember going to a slumber party and bringing it along to show it off – the girl whose party it was wanted to sleep with the photo under her pillow, but I insisted *I* was going to, and she was super mad. Ah, youth…

  2. Pinkosaurus says:

    Mark is good people and a phenomenally talented voice actor. Harrison Ford has always been a crank. I miss Carrie Fisher. That is all.

  3. Lightpurple says:

    Mark Hamill is one of the reasons I am still on Twitter. He is an absolute national treasure

  4. Sunny O says:

    Mark Hamill is simply the *best*.

  5. FHMom says:

    There is nothing wrong with being known for one beloved role. Luke Skywalker/Mark Hamill is loved by generations of people. The fact that he is a good guy is a bonus. Harrison Ford had a better career, but I don’t see anyone loving on him. It kind of reminds me of Lucille Ball. She had a long, diverse career, but for many people she will always be Lucy Ricardo. And for that role, she will always be loved.

  6. Wiggles says:

    Hamill’s perspective admirably reflects the unexpected twists & turns a working actor endures.

    Hey, it beats being known as Flo the overly dedicated Insurance Lady or The Loneliest Appliance Man in America (yes, that was you, Jesse White). Considering most aspiring actors never achieve their goals, being known for one of the most iconic series of movies of his generation is a worthy and commendable gig.

  7. The Recluse says:

    I remember reading decades ago that Harrison Ford said to George Lucas something like this: You can type this stuff, but you can’t say it.
    The script was pretty basic, almost comic book stuff.

  8. GELYA says:

    I grew up with Star Wars. Mark to me is gaming culture. I always remember Mark for his characters in games. His Joker was Academy Award. He is always Malefor in Spyro to me. He is a Golden Treasure.