Mark Hamill on Skywalker disagreements, fear of starring in a new Star Wars film

AUSTIN, Texas—Following the world premiere of The Director and The Jedi, a comprehensive two-hour documentary about the making of the latest Star Wars film, South By Southwest Film Festival attendees got a Last Jedi double-whammy. After the curtain raised at the Paramount Theater, director Rian Johnson and actor Mark Hamill took the stage for an impromptu Q&A.

Hamill, unsurprisingly, opted for jokes and openness in his answers, and, in particular, he offered his most robust comments yet about that spicy bit of news ahead of Episode VIII‘s launch: that he didn’t much care for how the character of Luke Skywalker had been written.

“A house I didn’t recognize”

The topic bubbled up with a question about Star Wars’ mythical and heroic scope as a long-running series, and Hamill explained how he prepared for the role: “When you get down to it, it’s not Mark Hamill in a blockbuster film. It’s Luke. I had to do a wild reimagining of the character. Like, hey, what happened between the last one and this one, where the most hopeful man in the galaxy becomes a cranky old suicidal man telling people to get off his lawn?

“Here I am going home again,” he later added, “but it was a house I didn’t recognize at all.”

Another fan pressed Hamill about this and about the brief mentions of disagreements between Hamill and Johnson during the film’s production, at which he opened up widely.

“It’s not distaste at all,” Hamill said, partially quoting the question. “It just wasn’t a Luke I understood.” He described “backstories” that he had to invent for himself, including how Luke, in mentoring Kylo Ren, “picked the new Hitler to be the next hope” and “how I justified cutting off my telepathic communication with my sister.” He even had a conversation with Johnson about the fact that Episode VII ended with Luke wearing Jedi robes. “What do we say about that? To make sure there was a flow.”

“I’m in black. I have a glove. I see a trend here.”

“In the context of how this has all been framed, you have to snap your head back and remember that with every single movie, with characters, it’s always a dialogue between the director and actors,” Johnson added. “That’s a healthy thing. You always butt heads with actors.”

The same fan asked a follow-up question: how, Mr. Hamill, would you have written the plot if you could have? (Johnson immediately interjected and drew a huge laugh from the audience: “I wanna hear this. What would you do, motherfucker?”)

Hamill admitted that he had “lots of really terrible ideas” for Episode VIII, at which point he shifted the question with an interesting tidbit: he had similar beef with George Lucas and Return of the Jedi‘s plot before that began filming. “I read [the script for] Jedi and thought, ‘Wait a sec! I thought I was heading toward the struggle of heading to the Dark Side. I’m in black. I have a glove. I see a trend here.'”

After offering a cooking analogy about actors and directors, Hamill expressed a rare bit of regret, which he explained by way of his own Star Wars fandom.

via Ars Technica
Mark Hamill on Skywalker disagreements, fear of starring in a new Star Wars film