Mark Hamill launched the first major panel of Star Wars Celebration in London with a one-man Q&A show and single promise: Sorry, no talk of Episode VIII.
So while next year’s sequel to The Force Awakens stayed relatively under wraps until near the end of his discussion (see below), the Luke Skywalker actor began his appearance by urging fans not to do the same with their toys. Even though he’s a collector himself, he says he encouraged his own children to rip open their action-figures rather than keep them pristine on the shelf.
“When we were doing the [original] movie, I was reading this thing and thinking, ‘It reads like a toybox!’ There are floating cars, there are fire-swords, and robots,” Hamill recalled. “So I said to George [Lucas], ‘Can I get on a list where I get one of everything?’ And he said, ‘Sure.’ I thought there’d be a poster, there’ll be a comic book, and a t-shirt maybe or a record album.”
He compared the avalanche of merchandise to the endless marching brooms from Disney’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. “The toys just start coming to your house. Bum-bah-bump, bah-bump…,” he sang. “Every day, more toys.”
Hamill said one of the earliest words his kids said was “Kenner!”
“I gave all those toys to the kids, and they grew up later and said, ‘Oh my God, Princess Leia in the box is $1,400 in mint condition! Why’d you let us give her a Sinead O’Connor haircut with cuticle scissors?’ I said, ‘They were your toys!'”
He said his own obsessions inspired his new VOD series Pop Culture Quest, which debuts in the fall and features him exploring other people’s collections. “There’s no more room in my house for stuff,” Hamill said. “When I start putting my collection in storage, that’s no fun. … We want these things to share and look at. So Pop Culture Quest is a way for me to have an excuse to come to your house and look at your collection.”
Breaking into a Darth Vader voice, he extended a hand to the audience and intoned: “May your collection be with me …”
Hamill was asked for his first reaction upon learning Luke would be mostly absent from The Force Awakens. Did he think it was funny? Was he insulted?
“No, no, I wasn’t insulted. I thought it was a really great surprise. But I don’t think they prepared me correctly,” he answered. “I went to training, and I lost all this weight. I thought, ‘I must be doing something physical if they’re sending me to the gym twice a week and torturing me physically.”
He said Lucasfilm could have let him know in advance what he was getting into. “It’s all about preparing you. ‘Oh, by the way, all that workout where you lost all the weight? You’re going to have to turn — and remove your hood,'” Hamill joked. “I’m like, ugh, I need to lie down for a minute.”
Hamill admitted that when he first sat down to read The Force Awakens script, he had no idea Luke would be absent.
“You should have seen me. What are the very first words in the crawl? ‘Luke Skywalker has vanished,'” Hamill said. “I said, ‘Hoo, this is gonna be good!'”
As he turned the pages, he kept noticing his character’s name, thinking he would appear at any moment. “I’ll tell you where I thought I came in — in the forest, when the lightsaber [wiggles] like this, and flies off,” Hamill says. “I thought, ‘Oh, what a great entrance!’ GAH! Rey caught it…? She hasn’t even been to Dagobah for training! What’s the deal?”
But he says Luke didn’t finish his training either, so fair is fair.
TRY NOT TO LAUGH
One kid asked Hamill for his funniest moment while filming. The actor said even during serious scenes like Obi-Wan Kenobi’s death, it was hard not to laugh.
“All the time, we were laughing. We had to be serious, but come on. It was just goofier than hell,” Hamill said. “You’re sitting next to Sir Alec Guinness, one of the most venerated actors in the English-speaking world, and a guy in an 8-foot dog costume with headphones on. I mean, what’s wrong with this picture? It was just really odd.”
He says he started dating his wife — who was his dental hygienist — before Star Wars debuted and she asked what kind of work he was doing. “I said, ‘I’m in this movie,’ she said, ‘What’s it called.’ I said, ‘It’s called Star Wars,’ and she asked, ‘Is that like Star Trek?’ And I went …” His mouth opened in a long pause. “‘Yes, it’s exactly like Star Trek.’ It would be easier to just say that.”
PETER PAN IN SPACE
Hamill told the crowd his favorite experience from the Star Wars films was “swingin’ across with the princess” in the first movie.
“And they got it in one take. Usually they have to do, four, five, six, 10 takes,” Hamill says. “I was so disappointed.”
He said the people who set up their harness for that swing across the Death Star chasm also did stage shows of Peter Pan. “They said, ‘Do you want to fly?’ I said, ‘So much!’ So they said, ‘Unhook him from Carrie,’ and they flew me all around the set,” Hamill says. “It was Peter Pan time!”
Breaking into a growling George Lucas impression, he said: “George was like, ‘Urmmm, get him down. It’s an insurance risk. If he hits a wall like Wile E. Coyote, the whole movie’s off. He’ll be a stain on the wall.'”
QUOTES TO COME
Hamill did tease a tiny bit of the next Star Wars installment.
“I was looping Episode VIII yesterday, and there’s dialogue in there, and I thought, ‘Oh boy, I can already see this on a T-shirt. Rian Johnson is amazing,” he said of the next installment’s writer-director. “He’ll make you forget all about ‘May the Force be with you.’ He’s come up with so many new catchphrases.”
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