Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Will Mark Hamill Appear in Star Wars VII or Not?

I think most of us assumed that it was a done deal. Various past and present discussions and tidbits indicated that all three of the original stars would be reprising their roles, even if in a small way, in the upcoming sequels. Harrison Ford finally signed on, and we heard about Mark Hamill and Carrie Fischer working with personal trainers to get ready to reprise their roles.

I'll admit that I never heard any confirmation that they'd been signed, but I kind of forgot to keep an eye out for that. It seemed like a formality at that point. And then...

You may have heard that Samuel L. Jackson made an appearance on a late night talk show recently and said that he hadn't been contacted about appearing in the sequels...and that Mark Hamill hadn't either. And neither had Ewan McGregor.

Some of this makes sense. Rampant rumors notwithstanding, these actors appeared decades apart in the originals and prequels, and it would take some serious gymnastics to artfully work them all in.

But we all thought Hamill was a lock, didn't we?

Seems like maybe Abrams & Co. aren't as sure as the rest of us were (and "the rest of us" apparently includes George Lucas).

While we're on the subject of the Star Wars universe...have you seen this video plea to J.J.? Apparently, Abrams has, and says that he's  largely on the same page with fans.


Monday, September 16, 2013


Technically, this has nothing to do with Mark Hamill. However, I watched Fanboys this evening. I'd never heard of the movie and ran across it entirely by accident in the video store a couple of days ago; I'm not sure how I missed it, given the cast. Anyway, any Star Wars geek is bound to enjoy it. Here's the trailer, if you don't want to just take a leap of faith...but you should feel very safe just renting the movie.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

When Time Expires

I knew when I asked "Remember that other movie Mark Hamill was in?" that I was exaggerating a bit. But I actually didn't know until just a few weeks ago that Mark had been in When Time Expires. Or, you know, that there was a movie called When Time Expires.

It's obvious that the powers behind this movie were hoping to capitalize on names-gone-by; Richard Grieco of 21 Jump Street plays the lead and Cynthia Geary from Northern Exposure his love interest.

Hamill's acting was, in my view, neither good nor bad. His part was relatively small, and he didn't make a significant impression one way or the other. He looked pretty average, too. It wasn't anything dramatic: he wasn't aging badly and there didn't appear to be residual effects from the accident. He just looked like your average guy, which would have been fine if you didn't know who he was...but a lot of the Luke Skywalker shine was gone, and with that earlier image in mind, he was a bit disappointing.

In fairness, Hamill played alongside Richard Grieco in this movie; the two were presented as peers, but there's actually a 14 year age difference between the actors and Grieco wasn't far removed from his Jump Street glory days.

I came away thinking that Hamill wasn't outstandingly good or bad--that he was an average actor who'd grown into an average-looking guy. And that made me wonder whether it wasn't Star Wars itself that derailed his acting career. Because plenty of average-looking people with ordinary acting skills make a living in those field...but we don't expect those people to be Luke Skywalker.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mark Hamill to Join the Cast of The Secret Service?

It was inevitable that, with the attention surrounding the new Star Wars films, movie offers would begin to pour in for Hamill. Hamill's reported role in the upcoming film adaptation of Mark Millar's comic book, The Secret Service, however, isn't a new development.

It was reported in November that Hamill, whose likeness was used in the comic book series, would play himself in the movie. Hamill's connection to the comic book project comes as no surprise--he's a well-known convention geek, dating back to the backroom days when the crowds numbered in the hundreds and his face wasn't yet recognizable to the vast majority of attendees.

Here's a new bit of news on the project, though: The Secret Service will apparently also feature a cameo by rocker Elton John. Despite John's advanced age and the fact that he's currently recovering from an appendectomy, the buzz is that we'll be seeing him in a fight scene in the film.

The movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio (and possibly Michael Caine) is due out in November, 2014.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Gene Shallit Interviews the Cast of Star Wars

This short clip from 1977 shows Gene Shallit chatting with Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fischer about the stunning popularity of the then-new Star Wars movie and how the three of them aren't yet recognizable and can slip unnoticed into a theater to see how the crowd reacts.

Probably the most entertaining moment comes when Shallit, in his introduction, says in wonder that it's not unusual to find a nine or ten year old kid who has "seen this movie five or six times". 

Watch the video here: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fischer and Harrison Ford circa 1977

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mark Hamill Gets a Workout

We heard weeks ago that Carrie Fischer was getting some help recapturing Princess Leia's physique, and now it turns out that Mark Hamill is getting the same treatment.

It makes sense that producers would be offering to help the pair get back in shape: with Fischer largely out of the public eye and Hamill focused on voice work in recent years, neither has had reason to keep up the rigorous diet and exercise program common to big screen stars.  And, the studio wants the two bearing the closest resemblance possible to their first-round portrayals of Luke and Leia, both of whom inspired the adolescent crushes of a generation.

Ford, apparently, is off the hook: remaining an action hero into your seventies has its perks.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mark Hamill Guest Stars

One thing the publicity surrounding the new Star Wars movies seems to have done is revived Mark Hamill's acting career.  Ironically, Star Wars fame doesn't seem to have been a benefit to Hamill back in the days when Luke Skywalker was everywhere. However, since news outlets have been buzzing with speculation about the return of Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fischer for the 2015 release, the three have been the focus of renewed interest.

Whether Hamill is testing the waters with a more visible role or he's getting more offers since the spotlight has turned back toward the trio, his television appearances have stepped up quite a bit.  After a spot with Star Trek veteran George Takei on The Neighbors in March, we're now hearing that Hamill will guest star on the 2-part season finale of Criminal Minds.

Information about Hamill's role on the popular crime drama has been strictly limited, but we're hearing hints that he may not be the good guy.  Tune in on May 22 to learn more.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mark Hamill on The Neighbors March 27

Ready for a preview of Mark Hamill as we all await news on whether or not Hamill will be reprising the role of Luke Skywalker in 2015? 

He'll be appearing on the season finale of The Neighbors, and he won't be alone.  TVGuide is reporting that Hamill will share his small screen appearance with George Takei.  Despite heavy overlap (and occasional rivalry) among the die-hard Star Wars and Star Trek fan bases, this filming was apparently the first time the two actors have come face to face.

Perhaps Hamill, who has stuck almost exclusively to voice acting for many years, wants to get his feet wet again before jumping into something as big as Star Wars 7.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Star Wars Family Tree

I know, I know...I called this blog BEYOND Luke Skywalker for a reason.  And it's meant to be about the trajectory of Mark Hamill's career post-Star Wars and not about LUKE SKYWALKER.  But in the wake of the news about the new Star Wars movie, there's just been too much good Star Wars stuff to ignore.  I restrained myself from sharing the Star Wars/School House Rock mash-up with you the other day, but there's only so much I can ignore.

Thus, today I bring you "A Star Wars Family Tree that Shows it Was Really a Soap Opera": and what was up with the way everyone just glossed over that big messy kiss Leia had laid on Luke after they discovered that they were not only siblings but TWINS?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mark Hamill's Star Wars Audition

One of the theories I promised to explore when I started this blog was that the reason Mark Hamill's career didn't take off like Harrison Ford's did post-Star Wars was simply that he wasn't a very good actor.  To be honest, I'm having a tough time assessing that. 

Corvette Summer, as I mentioned earlier, isn't exactly an optimal showcase for anyone's acting skills. And I'm sure many of my generation will understand that I simply can't evaluate Luke Skywalker objectively.  Even if I were able to shake off the associations from the 70s, I've simply seen the first block of Star Wars movies too often to see them with any kind of objectivity at this point.

Hamill does seem to have garnered respect as a voice actor, something I'll delve into further in another post.  And there's an element of irony in that, given that his Star Wars "big break" was almost certainly attributable (at least in part) to his boyish good looks.  That's always been my assumption, and it was reinforced for me when I watched this video of Hamill's Star Wars audition.

I'm very curious to hear others' reactions to this audition tape.  My own response was a resounding, "eh."  It wasn't bad, but literally nothing about it stood out to me.  Though the idea of anyone other than Mark Hamill portraying Luke Skywalker seems unthinkable today, I'd really love to get a look at some of the other audition tapes for that part.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Harrison Ford v. Han Solo

This is a little off-topic for this blog, but given that one of the mysteries surrounding Mark Hamill's lack of success post-Star Wars is the phenomenal trajectory of co-star Harrison Ford's acting career--and given that there's a lot of buzz at the moment surrounding the possibility that both Hamill and Ford will be reprising their Star Wars characters in 2015--I thought it was worth sharing.

Back in November, before things really started to heat up, The Huffington Post took a look at Ford's treatment of and response to Han Solo and the Star Wars franchise as it unfolded over the years...complete with video clips spanning more than thirty years. 

Here's the first, but if you're at all interested in Star Wars, it's well worth visiting  the original post and checking out the evolution.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Did Corvette Summmer Derail Mark Hamill's Acting Career?

I mentioned in my first post here that there are several possible explanations for the disparity between the post-Star Wars career paths of Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford.  Though I'm far from the point of drawing any conclusions, I've long suspected that Corvette Summer played a role in Hamill's disappearance from the on-screen world.

I saw Corvette Summer at the drive-in shortly after its release, and I liked it.  I'd just turned 12.  It was the second-billed movie of a double-feature, and my parents really wanted to leave ten or fifteen minutes into the movie.  That's saying something given that my dad is something of a collector of antique automobiles and my mom had recently traded in her 1968 Firebird convertible for a 1974 Camaro.

I ran across the movie on late night television several years ago and I was very surprised. I was kind of excited to see it, but once I didn't make it very far.  Whatever appeal Corvette Summer had once held for me was either a product of the story line being well suited to a 12-year-old or of Mark Hamill's presence at a time when I was firmly in the Luke Skywalker camp.

In fairness, the  movie didn't bomb--its box office was about $15 million at a time when the top grossing films weren't even approaching $100 million.  And it maintains a faithful following to this day: 50% of its Amazon ratings are 5 stars and it has a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

It's worth noting, though, that virtually all of the strong positive reviews mention having first seen this movie in adolescence.  It's impossible for me to discern how I'd see this movie (or how any of those reviewers would) had we not been Star Wars-struck adolescents in the day.

And that, I think, was ultimately the problem with Corvette Summer.  Annie Potts was an unknown at the time. The film had two big draws: the car and Mark Hamill. But Hamill's fan base at that time was largely comprised of the very young--with two male leads in Star Wars, there were definite camps, and Hamill's camp seemed to skew toward those in my middle-school age bracket.

However, not every 12-year-old girl had parents as liberal as mine. The film was a shade on the risque side for middle-schoolers in the 70s--the female lead was an aspiring prostitute.  So, the movie wasn't necessarily available to the bulk of the audience it would naturally have garnered by putting Hamill in the lead.  And the grown-ups...well, I have only the reactions of my own parents to judge by, but I also noted that none of those nostalgic reviews I read started out, "I first saw this movie the summer I turned thirty..."

Though starring in a very different film that broke the Luke Skywalker association early on was a smart move for Hamill, this might not have been the film to make it work.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What Mark Hamill is Saying about His Return to Star Wars

Slashfilm has assembled a bunch of fresh, detailed quotes from Hamill himself that seem to indicate that we're all jumping the gun just a little bit. Though Hamill says that he expects to be in the film and seems to want to be, he says no contracts have been signed and he hasn't talked to writers--he apparently has no more idea than the rest of us about where he'd fit into the storyline. He did assure us that Lucas had indicated there would NOT be new actors playing Luke, Han or Leia--either they were in or the characters would be written out. But, like some of the assurances we talked about yesterday, that seems to have come from an era in which Lucas expected to have more influence over the direction of the films than we should expect him to now. The upshot of this new information seems to be...there is no new information. Continue holding your breath.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Star Wars 7 Rumors

The Internet is abuzz with--as usual--a bunch of conflicting information about Star Wars VII and how/whether Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher will be reprising their roles as Luke and Leia. 

Conjecture at ScreenRant is that the new episode will draw on Expanded Universe (EU) material.  Specifically, Timothy Zahn's books from the 90s apparently include a storyline that picks up with Luke's and Leia's children approximately 40 years after we last saw them.  That would fit well with the real-life timeline. 

EOnline reports that a representative of LucasFilms has said unequivocally that the next chapter will not be based on the books, and will be "an original story."  But wait--was that back when Lucas was planning to do the next trilogy himself, as Mark Hamill claims he discussed a year or more ago?  Will it still hold true, if it was ever true?

The author of an unauthorized Lucas biography claims to have seen outlines for twelve movies, and that the episodes focused on the Skywalker and Solo children take place when Luke and Leia are in their late thirties or early forties.  Hamill and Fisher aren't exactly looking their ages (61 and 56), but 30s would be a stretch for either of them.

Still, I've been dismayed by the popularity of the idea of simply casting new, age-appropriate actors to play Han, Luke and Leia at that stage of their lives.  When I saw the suggestion on Comicbook.com, it struck me as so outrageous that I read it out loud to my teenage daughter for humor's sake. 

She looked at me for a moment and then said, "Wait...what?"  Since she's thirty years younger than I am and untainted by having seen the original Star Wars in the theater at age 11, I felt like my sentiment must be universal...until I read the comments on Comicbook.com.  Apparently, there's a pretty large faction that thinks if the script calls for Luke and Leia, we should just bring in some fresh blood.

Let me be the 759,308th to say, "Hell, no."

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Accident

If you were a Star Wars fan in the early days, you undoubtedly heard that Mark Hamill was in a car accident around the time that the first movie wrapped filming.  You may also have heard a wide variety of stories about the damage done (or not done) to his face, when the accident occurred and what impact it had on the filming of the second movie. 

Authoritative answers to those questions don't seem to be forthcoming, in large part because Hamill himself seems to have told conflicting stories. At the time, he reportedly told Dynomite magazine that the accident had "made hamburger" out of his face; years later, he seemed dismayed at the stories surrounding the accident and said that he'd only broken his nose.

Whatever the details, the truth is that Mark Hamill returned to film the second and third movies looking pretty good; there's nothing about him at all that says "guy who smashed his face in a bad car accident".  Though there was a lot of talk at the time about how different he looked in the second movie (I'll admit that I didn't think he was as attractive in the latter films), I showed before and after pictures to my teenage daughter who knew nothing about the accident yesterday, and she didn't see any difference.  Or rather, she attributed the slight difference she saw to something intentional that fit the story.

These are the pictures I showed her: Mark Hamill Before and After

Looking at these two pictures next to one another, it's clear that Hamill's hair is darker in the later films--something I'm not sure I noticed at the time.  He also has an older, harder look--but my kid not only suggested that this fit the movies and might have been intentional, but pointed out that we see the same kind of change in Anakin between Revenge of the Sith and The Clone Wars.  In other words, it might very well have nothing to do with any damage or reconstruction Hamill may or may not have undergone.

I'd have to say that if there is a change, it's not significant enough to have harmed his career based on his looks--but based on the rumors and perception?  I'm not sure.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Remember that Other Movie Mark Hamill Was In?

Unless you're a total geek or a die-hard Mark Hamill fan, one of two things just happened:  either you thought, "Mark Hamill was in another movie?" or you tried to dredge up some distant memory of something else you'd seen once long ago--probably Corvette Summer.

In fact...tell the truth.  When you hear "Mark Hamill," you picture this, don't you?

It's okay.  You're in good company.
It's a mixed blessing, landing an iconic role so early in your career that no one has ever seen you before.  By "mixed blessing," I mean nice in the moment and generally lucrative, but probably hell on the rest of your career.
It's not that Hamill hasn't been working, either.  In fact, his IMDB filmography lists 244 titles, while Star Wars co-star Harrison Ford's page lists only 69.  Granted, many of those were voice roles, but not all.  So what happened?  Why is Ford still a highly-regarded and well-paid actor at 70, while Hamill is "that guy who played Luke Skywalker?"
I can think of a few possibilities:
  • Mark Hamill is a crappy actor.  I have no idea whether or not this is true at this point, but it's one possible explanation.
  • A couple of bad choices right out of Star Wars set him on the wrong path, and he was never able to regain momentum.
  • It had something to do with the accident he had near the end of filming the original Star Wars movie.  Lore surrounding this accident is dramatic and varied, but at the time it seemed generally accepted that Hamill's appearance had been affected.
  • He's perfectly happy doing voice work and stage acting and hasn't tried to follow up his Star Wars success with other big movies.
At this point, I have no opinion as to which (if any) of these explanations is accurate, or whether it might be some combination.  But I'm about to start looking around, check out some of those other appearances and see what kind of information I can find.  In the meantime, feel free to share your opinions (or conjecture).

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