One of the most exciting facts about Star Wars: Episode VII, aside from the mere fact that it’s actually happening, is that the big three from the original trilogy—Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Han Solo (Harrison Ford)—are back for further adventures. These were career defining roles for all three of them—okay, Ford has had a long, illustrious career, but for Hamill and Fisher, this was the peak—and as you can imagine, being back in that galaxy far, far away is bringing up all kinds of memories and emotions. Hamill, especially, has a decent amount to say about the matter.
Sporting a scruffy, rugged man-beard, Hamill appeared at the Guardians of the Galaxy premiere and spoke to the BBC. If you buy the rumors about the plot that started circulating earlier this week about Luke being incommunicado for the 30-years since the end of Return of the Jedi, this look could certainly indicate that he’s been in hiding, like some crazy old coot out in the woods. (Perhaps he’s taken refuge on that gorgeous island off of the Irish coast that Episode VII recently rented out for filming.)
Hamill calls his return “unexpected” and a “gift,” saying that Luke has already had his time in the sun, that his story had already been told. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say that he’s not the main focus and that J.J. Abrams and company are using the old guard as a tool to prop up the new characters who will pick up the mantle from here on out. But just because he didn’t expect to be back doesn’t mean he’s not glad to be back. Returning to the set “evoked so many memories, it is just astonishing.”
Much has been made of the injury to Hamill’s co-star Harrison Ford, who broke his leg on set. Originally reported as a minor sprain, production was actually delayed due to the incident, which Hamill calls “really terrible.” He goes on to say that Ford is recovering nicely, and says, “it will take more than that to stop Harrison Ford.” We certainly hope so, he is Han Solo, Indiana Jones, and the President of the United States all rolled into one after all, you can’t keep that guy down.
Though the original stars are back, Hamill assures us that Episode VII “is really about the new generation of characters.” He jokes that he’s only there to help out and “grow contractually obligated beards.”
If you’re worried about what the new additions to the cast bring to the table, Hamill says, “They are so talented. They are all so diverse — there are people I recognize, like Andy Serkis, and new people that I’ve never seen before, like Daisy Ridley.”
In addition to Hamill, Fisher, and Ford, the cast includes returning stars Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker, as well as new faces like Serkis, Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Max von Sydow, Lupita Nyong’o, Gwendoline Christie, Christina Chong, Crystal Clarke, and Pip Anderson.
Star Wars: Episode VII is currently filming at Pinewood Studios in London, England, and opens worldwide on December 18, 2015.