Mark Hamill has some good news for Luke Skywalker fans – they will be seeing more of him in the next Star Wars film The Last Jedi than in the preceding movie, The Force Awakens. "I tell people that you can expect my part to be twice as big", he jokes.
There was much hype in the run-up to Episode VII, the first Star Wars film for 10 years, which had its premiere in 2015, that the original cast – Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher – were set to be reunited for the first time in 30 years. In reality, Hamill's part was tiny – he appeared for less than a minute right at the end without saying one word of dialogue.
"When they were going to send over Episode VII, J J [Abrams – The Force Awakens writer and director] called me and said: "We're sending the script over with armed guards." It was so weird. But when he was sending it over, he said: 'Don't turn to the end, just read it from page one and imagine it like a movie'," Hamill says.
"Now, in retrospect, all the alarm bells should have gone off. So when I got to Episode VIII, I turned right to the last page and started reading it backwards. I'm not going to be fooled like that again."
If the first trailer for The Last Jedi is anything to go by, he will have a much bigger part. The clip, released in April, sees the Jedi master in a prominent role, albeit looking like a broken man, solemnly declaring: "It's time for the Jedi to end."
The gloomy words mark a change from the young, idealistic Luke of previous films, which came as a shock to Hamill himself when he received the script from director Rian Johnson.
"In the trailer, Luke says: 'It's time for the Jedi to end.' Are you kidding me? He was the most optimistic character, he was so devoted to it. What could have happened between then and now that he would become that way?" he teases, making sure not to give away any spoilers.
“So I sort of artfully said that I disagreed fundamentally with everything that Rian decided for my character.”
The comment sparked rumours of a rift between the 66-year-old and the director, but this was not the case. Hamill is grateful that Luke's story is being taken in a different direction.
"What I meant to say was that I was surprised with everything that he had decided for my character. But isn't that better than seeing the same-old, same-old? That's the real challenge of these films, to give the audience the elements they expect: the action, the adventure, the humour and
yet find new ways to explore old themes. [Johnson has] done a remarkable job and I was stunned."
Hamill is vocal about his thoughts and opinions, which can often get him in trouble. As an avid Twitter user, he likes to discuss politics and Donald Trump, whose tweets he voices as The Joker, a role he has played in cartoons since 1992.
“I’m very forthcoming on my social media because I feel like it’s a combination of a diary, a chat room and electronic fan mail in a way. I feel free to express myself on Twitter because it’s so easy to unfollow me or ignore me,” he explains.
"I've been playing The Joker for so long, I know truly demented thinking when I see it. I thought this dialogue's too rich. When [Trump] attacked [London mayor] Sadiq Khan – are you kidding me? Two days after a terrorist attack? [Affects The Joker's voice] Oh it's got to be The Joker."
Hamill's comments about Trump on social media often lead to him being on the receiving end of online abuse by trolls. But he has a strategy to deal with cyber bullies: "When I see a really, really brutal hate tweet, I like it just to bewilder them. Because what they want is to really hurt you, so I thought if I like it, at least it will befuddle them and maybe annoy them a little more."
However, mostly Hamill uses Twitter to interact with legions of dedicated fans and makes a point of saying he wants everyone – including Trump supporters – to enjoy Star Wars regardless of any political persuasions.
Hamill, who was almost unknown when he was cast as Luke in 1976, feels blessed to still be at the heart of the Star Wars universe. "People say to me: 'Aren't you upset that people remember you for one part?' And I say: 'Which part? The Joker or Luke?'" he laughs. "But my point is, for someone who never expected to be remembered for anything, this is all win-win.
"I'm so lucky to be able to do this. At this age, I should be wandering around a beach with a metal detector and cursing at teenagers to get off my lawn.
“It’s wonderful, it’s unexpected – it’s just been so much fun.”
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