Mark Hamill Embarrassed Himself In Front Of School Girls While Filming Star Wars
While practicing stunts for The Empire Strikes Back, Mark Hamill was at a private school, being laughed at by 50 school girls.
Mark Hamill shot to superstardom thanks to his role as Luke Skywalker in a galaxy far, far away, but just because he’s a Jedi Knight does not mean he can’t be embarrassed in front of children. In a wide-ranging interview that was conducted by StarWars.com to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, Hamill explained his training for underwater filming. With Avatar 2 taking underwater filming to new heights, and Kate Winslet taking an underwater record from Tom Cruise, water stunts are suddenly relevant again, though it’s unlikely anyone will have the same experience as Hamill.
In order to properly film some of his scenes in The Empire Strikes Back, Mark Hamill had to learn how to scuba dive, something that the actor had never done before. Proving the old saying about famous last words, the future Jedi Master said “They took me to a private school that had a big enough swimming pool because I had never been scuba diving before. And I said to them, ‘well I don’t think it’s any big deal. I’ll just breathe through the tank. What’s the big whoop about that?”
Anyone that has been scuba diving knows that there is a lot more to the discipline than just going underwater and breathing through a hose, which Mark Hamill quickly realized once he went under for the first time. During that first lesson, he recalls “So, I went to an all-girls school and they had the swimming pool closed as I had my lessons, but I remember, at one point, looking up and on the second floor balcony there were, I don’t know, 50 girls all up there giggling and pointing and laughing, so that was interesting.”
After the smash-hit of Star Wars, which created a fandom that survives to this day, it is very likely that the girls laughing at Mark Hamill knew Luke Skywalker was trying very hard not to drown with all the grace of a flailing mongoose. Filming the sequel to what was, at that time, one of the biggest blockbusters in history, was filled with a level of secrecy that the first film never had. Hamill recalls being able to share the script for A New Hope with his friends, and no one cared about a silly sci-fi movie, but for Empire Strikes Back, the main cast were now world-famous icons.
Mark Hamill on his first scuba lesson: “So, I went to an all-girls school and they had the swimming pool closed as I had my lessons, but I remember, at one point, looking up and on the second floor balcony there were, I don’t know, 50 girls all up there giggling and pointing and laughing, so that was interesting”
Today, a big-budget blockbuster would never toss its lead into the pool of a private school; instead, the studio would have its own pool and training area. Eventually, Mark Hamill was able to film his underwater scenes at Elstree Studios, which had temperature-controlled water and no schoolchildren laughing at the movie’s lead actor. James Cameron would never have allowed onlookers to watch as Kate Winslet held her breath for seven minutes, and Disney would never allow plot details to leak out so easily.
Mark Hamill describes the entire shoot for The Empire Strikes Back as the most physically grueling in his long career, perhaps due to how he was young, excited, and much like Tom Cruise, wanted to do his own stunts as often as possible. Hamill did so many stunts while filming, he was accepted into the British Stunt Union.
Now, the 71-year-old actor is taking things much easier, slowly stepping away from acting. Mark Hamill now makes cameo appearances, having even stepped away from his regular voice acting roles, but hopefully, the star has more stories to share next year for the 40th anniversary of Return of the Jedi.