Mark Hamill’s favorite Star Wars movie is The Empire Strikes Back. The actor made the revelation in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2019. When asked to choose his favorite film in the franchise, the actor said, “It’s like, pick your favorite child. You like them all for different reasons. I guess I’d have to go with Empire, only because it was so unexpected to have the protagonist be so soundly defeated.”
“Losing the hand and the dad Vader, all of it was pretty unexpected. And it was much more cerebral. Yoda is such an important addition to the mythology, and I thought it was so clever of George [Lucas] the concept of the Force so you can talk about religion and spirituality without making everyone uncomfortable. So, for that alone,” Mark Hamill continued about Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
“It’s like, pick your favorite child. You like them all for different reasons. I guess I’d have to go with Empire, only because it was so unexpected to have the protagonist be so soundly defeated.”Mark Hamill
Fast forward a few decades, and Mark Hamill found himself in a Star Wars meeting with Carrie Fisher and George Lucas. The filmmaker informed them about the sale of Lucasfilm and the plan for a new trilogy featuring the original stars. Fisher enthusiastically agreed, and Hamill joined in once Harrison Ford signed on.
In 2015’s The Force Awakens, directed by J.J. Abrams, Mark Hamill returned as Skywalker, but only near the end of the Star Wars film. In 2017’s The Last Jedi, directed by Rian Johnson, Hamill’s portrayal of Skywalker differed significantly from his original character, a decision he strongly disagreed with but accepted for the sake of the Star Wars universe.
The Empire Strikes Back is regarded by many as one of the greatest sequels in cinematic history.
Beyond screen time, Mark Hamill expressed sadness over the absence of an onscreen reunion of the original trilogy’s stars in the new Star Wars films. He shared scenes with Fisher in The Force Awakens but not with Ford, which disappointed him. Hamill was also dismayed by the decision to kill off Han Solo before Luke could reunite with his best friend.
“A bigger shock to me was them killing Han Solo before Luke could ever see his best friend again,” the actor explained. Mark Hamill says he pitched Abrams on a different idea for the Star Wars film, to no avail. “They get the keys to the kingdom, and they’re the deciders, so you just have to live with it,” he continued.
Given Mark Hamill’s feelings about the newer Star Wars movies, it’s not surprising that The Empire Strikes Back is his favorite. Directed by Irvin Kershner, the 1980s movie is often regarded as one of the greatest sequels in cinematic history. The story picks up after the Rebel Alliance’s victory against the Death Star in A New Hope.
The Rebel Alliance established a new base on the ice planet Hoth, but Imperial forces discover them. A major battle ensues, during which Han Solo and Princess Leia escape, while Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker heads to the famous Star Wars planet Dagobah to train the wise Jedi Master Yoda. The film ends with a lightsaber duel in which Darth Vader tells Luke he is his father.
The Empire Strikes Back received widespread critical acclaim upon its release. Critics praised its darker, more mature tone and improved character development. The film’s special effects, including stop-motion animation for the AT-AT walkers, were also praised. The decision to reveal Darth Vader as Luke’s (Mark Hamill’s) father was seen as a bold move that added depth to the Star Wars storyline.
“Losing the hand and the dad Vader, all of it was pretty unexpected. And it was much more cerebral. Yoda is such an important addition to the mythology, and I thought it was so clever of George [Lucas] the concept of the Force so you can talk about religion and spirituality without making everyone uncomfortable. “Mark Hamill
The Empire Strikes Back was a major box office success, grossing over $209 million in the United States and Canada during its initial release, making it one of the highest-grossing films of 1980. When adjusted for inflation, it remains one of the top-grossing films of all time. It also holds the highest review scores of any movie in the Star Wars franchise.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, The Empire Strikes Back currently holds a 94 percent critic score based on over 100 reviews. The audience score is even more impressive at 97 percent, based on over 250,000 viewer ratings. With Mark Hamill touting the film as his favorite, its reputation has only grown over the years, solidifying its status as a classic in the science fiction genre.
Mark Hamill returned to Star Wars. He played a younger version of Luke Skywalker via motion capture and de-aging visual effects in the season two finale of The Mandalorian. The actor also made a brief cameo appearance in the season one finale of The Book of Boba Fett. Since then, Hamill stated that he has retired from playing Luke Skywalker and has no reason to reprise the role again.