Mark Hamill came to Star Wars as a wide eyed, relative unknown in 1977 and took on what would become one of the most recognizable roles in movies history, Luke Skywalker. Today he celebrates his 63rd birthday.
After director J.J. Abrams finally revealed that the original Star Wars cast members (Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher) would return to reprise their roles, fans of the first trilogy couldn’t have been more excited to have the intrepid trio together once again. Even though, Mark Hamill is celebrating his 63rd birthday, he’s had to undergo a training and dietary regimen to be able to do the things we expect Luke to do.
Mark Hamill auditioned for the role of Luke Skywalker, because his friend Robert Englund — who was auditioning for Apocalypse Now — thought he would be perfect for it and suggested it to him. The now veteran cast member, went ahead and got the role; but at the time, he was unknown to audiences.
In January, Hamill had a AMA (Ask Me Anything) session on Reddit and revealed some interesting details about the iconic franchise.
“I didn’t expect (Star Wars) to be a critical success. I thought people would like it, because it took so many elements from movies we were familiar with — pirate, cowboy movies, war movies — and added humor. That’s the thing that got me. Science fiction usually isn’t funny. They have an eight-foot furry dog driving a spaceship, he’s naked except headphones, that’s funny. Even if it doesn’t get great reviews it’ll be a cult movie. People will go watch it at midnight because it’s so unique. I thought it would be popular but never thought it would be on the cover of Time magazine.”
Mark Hamill had some interesting insights on what went on behind-the-scenes. He was asked about those “pesky power converters,” a line that has followed him ever since he uttered it with that whiny voice. “I get ribbed for that line because it was so whiny. And I remember at the time, I had to make it as juvenile as possible so that I can show how Luke matures later.”
Hamill also talked about working with Harrison Ford and how their on set relationship resembled that of Luke and Han in Star Wars.
“I’d seen him in American Graffiti, and I did the screen tests with him. We just fell into our character roles. Luke idolizes Han Solo, it was such a great role because Han was the cynic, he was the modern role in this fairy tale. It was just the right element in the stew for all the cynics in the audience. I just thought Harrison was fantastic, so perfect for the part. We fell into the role of mentor/student. They couldn’t have made a better choice, and he can do no wrong. He’s got a great sense of humor; it was fun to try to make him laugh.”
As far as keeping one of the biggest secrets in the story, a secret, Mark Hamill said he was warned not to talk about the fact that Darth Vader was Luke’s father. The revelation became one of the biggest shocks in the Star Wars franchise and nobody other than Lucas, director Irvin Keshner, and Hamill knew, not even Ford or Fisher.
“(Director) Irvin Kershner brought me aside, and said, ‘I know this, George knows this and you’ll be the third person who knows. If it goes out we’ll know you leaked it.’ So I was terrified of being the one to ruin it. I remember when they screened it, Harrison turned around and said ‘I didn’t know that! Why the f*** didn’t you tell me?!’ I’m good at keeping secrets — especially when the goal it to maximize the enjoyment of the audience. That’s why I’m worried about Episode VII, they’re going after casting sheets! I’m someone who doesn’t want to know what I’m getting for my birthday. My sisters would go through the closets at Christmas, and I hated that. I’m trying to keep the surprises for the movies, not for the Internet. I hate spoilers, I like being surprised. There’s a natural curiosity, and a competition to see who can reveal the most. I beg people, please let’s keep it a surprise! Don’t you want to be surprised? I know I do.”
As Mark Hamill keeps working on Star Wars Episode VII fans keep getting more and more excited to see what director J.J. Abrams has in store for Luke Skywalker. Rumor is that the Jedi Master has been in hiding for the last 30-years and is living in a remote island (hence the bushy beard above), but let’s not ruin it for fans and just with Mark Hamill a very Happy Birthday.
[Image via Lucasfilm]