Whenever the name Mark Hamill comes up, it is impossible not to think of Star Wars and Luke Skywalker. But Mark Hamill, and his millions and millions of Star Wars fans, also know that he is much more than Luke. His career has covered over five decades and has been filled with more ups and downs and tragedies and triumphs imaginable. Let’s take a look at the force that is Mark Hamill.
MARK HAMILL IS 71 YEARS OLD AND WAS BORN IN SAN FRANCISCO
Mark Hamill is a San Francisco Bay Area (or simply Bay Area) kid, born in the East Bay of Oakland, California on September 25, 1951. His father, William Hamill, was a U.S. Navy Captain, so Bay Area living for Mark was not for long. As is often the case for military families, the Hamills moved around extensively during Mark’s childhood years.
With his mother, Virginia, and his six siblings, sisters Terry, Jan, Jeanie, and Kim, along with his two brothers, Will and Patrick, the entire family found themselves moving from the west coast to the east coast and changing schools fairly often. During his elementary school years, Mark Hamill went to Walsingham Academy in Williamsburg, Virginia, and to Edgar Allen Poe Middle School in Annandale, Virginia.
By the time Mark Hamill turned 11 years old, the family had moved back out west, but this time to San Diego, California. There, Mark attended Hale Junior High School. During his first year in high school, where he went to James Madison High School, the Hamills moved back to Virginia and he transferred to Annandale High School. The moving was not done, though.
By the time Mark Hamill entered his junior year in high school, his father was stationed in Japan. The remainder of Mark’s high school years were at the Nile C. Kinnick High School (first an Army school before shifting to a Navy school) located in Yokosuka, Japan.
During his two years at the high school, Hamill was the student council president and also a member of the high school’s Drama Club. Mark would eventually graduate from Nile C. Kinnick High School in 1969.
With a taste for drama, Mark Hamill chose to return to the states with his sights set on Hollywood. In that regard, Hamill attended Los Angeles City College where he majored in drama. The roof over his head in 1969 was a $55-a-month gardener’s shed. To support himself, Hamill worked as a janitor, a copyboy, and a soda jerk.
HIS ACTING CAREER TOOK OFF WITH GENERAL HOSPITAL, THE BILL COSBY SHOW, AND THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY IN THE 1970s
Before Mark Hamill finished his college years, he grabbed his very first professional (and paid) acting gig. It was on the first edition of The Bill Cosby Show where Cosby played Chet Kincaid for two seasons. Hamill got $300 for his one-episode appearance in 1970. That year, Hamill was also seen on the TV series, Headmaster.
Next up for Mark Hamill was a nine-month stint playing Kent Murray on the long-running (and still going) soap opera, General Hospital. According to Hamill, it was during his stint on General Hospital that he had his very first serious relationship. It was with actress Anne Wyndham, who just so happened to play his sister on the soap opera (nothing like a little bit of foreshadowing, huh?)
The early years of Mark Hamill’s career consisted of a lot of one-offs on popular TV series at the time like The Partridge Family, Cannon, Night Gallery, The F.B.I, and Room 222. He grabbed three episodes of Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law, all of which were separate characters. This was also the time that Hamill began his voice-acting career.
His first voice role came in 1972 on The New Scooby-Doo Movies. He was heard on 8 episodes, voicing numerous different parts. This series also featured a number of big names early in their careers such as Pat Harrington Jr., Ted Knight, Ann Jillian, Casey Kasem, and Vincent Van Patten.
The following year, Hamill took on a much larger role in the Jeannie animated series (based on the live-action TV series, I Dream of Jeannie) as he grabbed 16 episodes. Hamill brought over his Scooby-Doo character, Corey Anders, for the Jeannie animated series, and instead of having Barbara Eden voicing the role of the character she played for five seasons from 1965-1970, Jeannie was instead voiced by Julie McWhirter.
Mark Hamill’s early career continued on at that pace. He continued to get work on popular TV series such as The Manhunter, Lucas Tanner, Bronk, Petrocelli, Medical Center, and One Day at a Time. A big series role for Mark came with an 8-episode run on The Texas Wheelers. Not only was he finding time for TV series, but he was also beginning to find work on TV movies. These included Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic, Eric, Mallory: Circumstantial Evidence, and The City.
A big early career decision for Mark Hamill came with the series Eight is Enough, which starred Dick Van Patten in a series that was based on the life of syndicated newspaper columnist Tom Braden and his eight children. Hamill had already filmed the pilot and as the series was picked up by ABC, he was preparing to move forward with the series, which ultimately ran for five seasons. Instead, Hamill was called to join a “galaxy far, far away,” so he sought to get out of his contract, a request which Lorimar Productions eventually granted.
One would like to think that all of this early work had properly prepared a young Mark Hamill for what was to come next, but that wouldn’t be the case. Little did he know that life was about to change drastically and in ways he was not prepared to deal with. Welcome to the world of Star Wars, Mark Hamill.
MARK HAMILL MIGHT HAVE FREDDY KREUGER TO THANK FOR LUKE SKYWALKER
There is one name that will forever be inextricably associated with Mark Hamill, that being Luke Skywalker. One person who helped Hamill land the plum part was Robert Englund, who went on to make a name for himself as well by playing dream psycho Freddy Kreuger in numerous A Nightmare on Elm Street films. Whether he deserves the entire credit for Hamill getting an audition with George Lucas remains up for debate.
As Englund recalls, he was already out, auditioning for a part in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. As he was leaving the audition, right across the hall, George Lucas was also auditioning for a space movie. “George Lucas was my hero, so I thought: ‘Hell, I’ll go.’ At the time, they wanted Han Solo to be played older, like a cool uncle who lets you smoke marijuana at Christmas. They looked at me for five minutes, took a couple of Polaroids; I did not read. That’s all I remember.”
His next move, though, was a fortuitous one. “But as I left, I snatched the audition sides for this much younger character called Luke Skywalker,” he explained. “I went back to my apartment in the Hollywood Hills and my buddy Mark Hamill’s cowboy boots were on my front porch. He was working down the hill at the CBS studios as a very successful television actor.”
Englund continued, “Mark was watching the ‘Bob Newhart’ or ‘Mary Tyler Moore’ show. We’d watch together in the afternoon and then call our agents at 5 pm to see how our auditions had gone. I remember saying: ‘Guess what? George Lucas is making this space movie.’ We both loved ‘American Graffiti,’ so Mark called his agent and put her under pressure to get him an audition.”
Years later, Hamill was questioned, via Twitter, about the circumstances surrounding his audition for Luke Skywalker and Englund’s story. Hamill responded with, “Robert was 1 of several actors who told me about #StarWars-When I told my agent-She’d already set up an audition & still gets annoyed he takes the credit. Sleeping on his couch is nonsense! I’d been a working actor for over six years & had my own Apt.”
However it truly happened, the bottom line was that it worked out. Hamill ended up reading some extremely odd dialogue, but it was exactly what George Lucas was looking for. Lucas was very close to going with William Katt (The Greatest American Hero) but decided Hamill would fit the part of Luke Skywalker. Other big names that Lucas had come in were Robby Benson, Charles Martin Smith, Will Seltzer, and Kurt Russell.
Probably more shocking are the names who auditioned for the part of Han Solo, the role that famously went to Harrison Ford. While Ford wanted the part badly, Lucas wanted a new face. Lucas and Ford had a history, with Ford working on Lucas’ American Graffiti.
The competition to grab the coveted role of Han Solo was intense and littered with big names. They included Kurt Russell (again), Sylvester Stallone, Christopher Walken, Nick Nolte, Bill Murray, Burt Reynolds, James Caan, Jack Nicholson, Steve Martin, Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Perry King, and Chevy Chase. Even in that day and age, those were a bunch of heavy hitters.
The same actually went for Carrie Fisher’s role of Princess Leia Organa, a role she got under the condition that Fisher would have to lose 10 pounds to play the part. Competition for the part was tough, with Fisher going up against the likes of Amy Irving, Linda Purl, Terri Nunn, Cindy Williams, Karen Allen, and Jodie Foster.
Now, with his top three set, George Lucas went on to create one of the most influential films ever.
MARK HAMILL WAS INVOLVED IN A HORRIFIC CAR ACCIDENT AND NEEDED PLASTIC SURGERY
Mark Hamill chose not to talk about his car crash for years. Eventually, he would open up about it, discussing not only the accident and what he could remember of it, and also the aftereffects when he thought for sure his acting career was over.
Mark Hamill’s car accident happened on January 11, 1977, which came about six months before fans would see him for the first time as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars (eventually retitled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope).
According to Hamill, “I was way out in the sticks somewhere [driving his BMW in California] and there were no cars and no traffic, thank God. I was going about 65-70 mph… I was speeding, going too fast… and what happened, I think, was that I tried to negotiate an off-ramp and lost control, tumbled over, and went off the road. I fractured my nose and my cheek.”
Off the road is where Hamill thought his career was heading once he woke up in the hospital and saw his face for the first time. “I woke up and I was in the hospital and I knew that I had hurt myself very, very badly. And then someone held a mirror up to my face. I just felt that my career was over.”
In their efforts to put Mark Hamill back together, doctors used cartilage from Mark Hamill’s ear to help rebuild his nose. Although the surgeons did the best they could with the technology they had at that time in 1977, the accident left Hamill with very noticeable facial differences from his pre-crash appearance.
So much so that while he was slated to return for the second film in the Star Wars trilogy, George Lucas needed to find a way to explain the major facial difference fans would see.
HIS FACIAL INJURIES WERE PUT INTO THE STAR WARS STORY
Although the original Star Wars still hadn’t premiered, George Lucas began to put ideas together for a second film. Included in his ideas were how to explain Mark Hamill’s facial differences fans would surely notice. As a side note to Hamill’s accident, Lucas had told him that had he [Hamill] died in the accident, his character would have been replaced by another and not recast.
When Mark Hamill was involved in the accident in 1977, Star Wars still had a few pick-up shots remaining that included Hamill. Unable to use him, Lucas instead had to rely on doubles to complete the scenes. So, how was Lucas going to explain the difference?
How about a yeti-like creature giving our hero Luke Skywalker a what-for? When we first see Luke Skywalker atop a Tauntaun in The Empire Strikes Back, they are outside on the frozen planet of Hoth. Luke pulls down the mask shielding his face from the cold so he could talk on his radio. Right then and there, fans get their first glimpse of his altered looks.
The scene isn’t terribly long to where at first glance it may be noticeable and right when you might be thinking something is different with Luke Skywalker, a Wampa attacks Skywalker and his “steed.”
The hairy beast with long, sharp claws, rakes away at Luke’s face, knocking him off his Tauntaun, unconscious. It then takes a bloodied Luke back to its cave where it obviously plans to change Luke’s name from Luke to Emile (aka “a meal”).
Thankfully, Luke wakes in time to save himself when he uses the Force to obtain the lightsaber that was stuck in the snow nearby, to cut himself out of the Wampa trap and defend himself from the oncoming Wampa. But by that time, the Wampa had done its damage to Luke’s face and that was how his car accident was written into the sequel.
HE HAD TO KEEP STAR WARS’ MOST FAMOUS LINE SECRET FOR A YEAR
For Mark Hamill, that wasn’t the only traumatic issue he had to deal with in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. In fact, and from the sound of it, working out how to incorporate his physical appearance because of his car accident was much easier than keeping the secret he was sworn to.
The secret involves what is known as the most iconic line in Star Wars lore – “I am your father.” In 2020, Mark Hamill took to his Twitter account to reveal to all that the line was known by only three people – he, The Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner and George Lucas.
In his post, Hamill wrote, “The cast & crew first learned of it when they saw the finished film. When we shot it, Vader’s line was ‘You don’t know the truth, Obi-Wan killed your father.’ Only Irvin Kershner, George Lucas & I knew what would be dubbed in later. Agony keeping that secret for over a year!”
Now, it wasn’t the first time that Hamill had shared the story of the big secret, it had just been the latest sharing. A couple of years earlier, Hamill appeared on The Graham Norton Show to discuss the new (at the time) Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens film and dropped that piece of knowledge to Norton and his audience. You can see the whole thing below.
The surprise hit that was Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope made anticipation for The Empire Strikes Back off the charts. The pressure was on for George Lucas to deliver, which fell onto Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford to make sure their characters were on point. They did not fail.
It was a known fact that Hamill (even with his car accident injuries) and Fisher would be returning because they had contracts that said they would appear in a second, third, and fourth Star Wars film.
Harrison Ford did not have this in his contract, declining these terms as he had previous bad experiences. Instead, Ford chose to return for a second film because he wanted to improve on his first go-around as Han Solo.
Not only did he improve his Han Solo standing, but so did Hamill and Fisher. Although the film was a hit right out of the gate, it received mixed reviews upon its premiere.
Most negative reviews pointed out how the film was much darker than the fun, adventurous romp of the first film, dealing with more mature themes. Also, fans were kind of upset that the Luke/Leia pairing never materialized, though it was hard to deny a Han/Leia relationship.
Speaking of relationships.
MARK HAMILL AND CARRIE FISHER NEARLY HAD A RELATIONSHIP
On-screen, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher ended up being brother and sister. Off-screen, their relationship took on the same flavor, but not before the two briefly tested out the relationship waters. They were, at the time, two young, very attractive actors with plenty of time to kill while filming Star Wars. Can you blame them?
Mark Hamill was 25 years old when he started filming Star Wars on March 22, 1976. At that time, Carrie Fisher was a mere 19-year-old, though she was the daughter of Hollywood royalty, Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.
There was an obvious attraction between the two, and while they did act on it to some extent, Hamill knew that an actual on-set romance between them would probably not be the best of decisions.
“Carrie and I were attracted to one another, but I knew from previous jobs that it would have been a bad idea [to have an on-set relationship],” Hamill once explained. But that didn’t stop Hamill from bragging about the fact that he was a good kisser.
“I remember one time—I’m sure alcohol was involved—we were talking about kissing techniques. I said: ‘Well, I think I’m a fairly good kisser. I like to let the women come to me rather than be aggressive.’ And she said: ‘What do you mean?’ Well, next thing you know we’re making out like teenagers!”
Somehow, what could have turned into something much more, did not. “We were all over each other! But the one thing that drew Carrie and me back from the precipice was we kind of became aware of what we were doing and just burst out laughing. Which was unfortunate for me because the rocket launch sequence had been initiated.”
For Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, not only was rocket launch initiated but it was also sent into that galaxy far, far away on numerous occasions, something of which Mark Hamill was not aware. It was only after the filming of the original Star Wars that Hamill was told of the Fisher/Ford “connection.”
“Marcia [Lucas, George Lucas’s then-wife and editor of Star Wars] told me after we finished filming. I’m glad I didn’t know before, as it probably really would have affected me. By the time I found out, I just thought it was hilarious. But you know men – even if we don’t want to have a relationship, it’s just in our nature to jockey for affection.”
Apparently, Mark Hamill had moved on past a possible hook-up with Fisher. “I was so self-involved at that point, they could’ve been doing it in front of me and I wouldn’t have noticed,” he joked to PEOPLE in 2016. “I was single and had my own agenda.”
The problem with Fisher and Ford hooking up was the fact that she was only 19 and he was 33 … and married with children. It was a fairly well-kept secret for years and years, until Fisher’s untimely passing on December 27, 2016.
Prior to her death, Fisher had just published her memoirs in a book titled The Princess Diarist, where she revealed to the world that she had a three-month affair with Ford while on the set of Star Wars.
She even explained the situation to then Today Show hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, saying it was like a “three-month one-night stand.” Fisher said the affair had been initiated by Ford and while it left her feeling guilty – “I wasn’t raised that way, but when you’re on location — this is something I discovered — everything is permitted” – she ultimately fell for the scoundrel.
Fisher realized that even at her young age, she still wanted more from Ford, often fantasizing that he would leave his wife, Mary Marquardt. Unfortunately for Fisher, what Ford wanted was more of a physical relationship and when filming was complete on Star Wars, he went back to his family. Ford and Marquardt would end up divorced in 1979.
Fisher did finally admit in The Princess Diarist that although she fell completely head over heels for Ford, she was always sorry it wasn’t for Hamill. “I’m sorry it’s not Mark,” she wrote. “It could’ve been. It should’ve been. It might’ve meant something. Maybe not much, but certainly more.”
Ultimately, in Hamill’s opinion, the way his and Fisher’s relationship turned out was by far for the best. Plus, he knew deep down that it never would have worked out for the both of them.
“If I’d had a relationship with her, it would have been like a full-time activity,” he admitted, “because she was too much for me in every regard: she was too creative, she was too smart. She was just the best.”
Carrie Fisher’s death in 2016 came as a massive shock not only for Star Wars fans but for her many admirers. The blow was so devastating that the day after Fisher passed away, the family, including her mother Debbie Reynolds, was together at Todd Fisher’s (Carrie’s brother) home getting ready to plan the funeral arrangements. It was then that Reynolds had a stroke and according to Todd, Reynolds said, “I want to be with Carrie” right before she had her stroke. She died later that afternoon.
Mark Hamill was an angry man when he found out the circumstances of Carrie Fisher’s death. Although the official autopsy says she died from sleep apnea (she was flying home from London when the event occurred), the report also confirmed that she had cocaine, heroin, and ecstasy in her system when she passed away.
“Carrie was so much fun to be around, and of course irreplaceable,” Mark Hamill said of Fisher. “But my wife [Marilou] said, ‘You know you’re just being selfish. You only want her to be here ’cause she could make you laugh.’ And I could make her laugh, which I was proud of. But instead of being so upset with her, we should just be grateful for what she gave us when she was here.”
Eventually, Mark Hamill was able to get past his anger. He now only has fond memories of Carrie Fisher, both in their time with the original Star Wars trilogy and with the new, when they reconnected after all those years. “We were the old guard,” Hamill said upon reflection. “And they had all these new kids running around. But she trusted me. She knew I was the same person I was all those years ago.”
MARK HAMILL HATED RETURN OF THE JEDI AT FIRST
When The Empire Strikes Back was an even bigger hit than A New Hope, plans went into overdrive to get the script right and to make sure the main characters all returned. There was no issue with Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, as the duo was already contracted to be part of a third film. The issue, then, became the status of Harrison Ford.
Through some fancy negotiating in which agent Phil Gersh of the Gersh Agency claims his son David was taken advantage of while Phil was on vacation, Ford was brought into the third film. It was at this time, under Ford’s request, that Han Solo be killed off. But it wasn’t only Ford who saw their character differently than what was on paper.
Mark Hamill initially was not a fan of the Return of the Jedi script. He was hoping that the third film would continue on with the darker tone the Empire Strikes Back had set and even took his feelings to George Lucas. Hamill recalls, “I said, ‘It’s so predictable and pat.’” Lucas was forthright in his reaction when he told Hamill, “Mark don’t forget. These things were made for children.”
“His original intention was to make movies for, you know, kids! Adolescents and younger,” Hamill continued. “And we’re bringing our adult sensibilities to it and that’s where we go wrong. He’s the man. He knows what he wants, and I realized he was right. He said, ‘All fairy tales get tied up neatly at the end.’ Because I thought after ‘Empire’ we should really go crazy as possible with the last one, but there’s a reason why George is where he is and I’m where I am.”
Originally, the third film was titled Revenge of the Jedi and the simple fact that Luke Skywalker was wearing all black led Mark Hamill to believe that Luke would eventually take the offer from the Emperor and fully embrace the Dark Side. Hamill was truly disappointed Luke wasn’t to take that route, especially with how the tone changed drastically from the first and second Star Wars films.
“What I thought when I read the [Empire Strikes Back] script and saw what Luke went through was that he was being tested in the very same way his father had been. That the Dark Side was an easier way to go. I was figuring that by the time movie ended, I have one mechanical hand that was sort of analogous to Vader… I thought the third film would be Luke turning to the Dark Side and then, at the end, having to redeem himself.”
“Well, I thought I was turning evil. Because I was wearing all black,” Hamill said. “I thought I would go to the dark side in the last one. And, of course, you have to redeem yourself. But that movie is the way I felt it was going with the preceding episode, but every actor wants to play their own evil twin.”
THE REAL LUKE SKYWALKER/HAN SOLO FRIENDSHIP
Regardless of how “relationships” played out between Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher and Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, the friendship between Hamill and Ford was solid. They became such good friends during the first three films that Hamill says he would be the one who could get Ford to smile when the notoriously grumpy Ford was in a bad mood.
Hamill told Empire in a 2015 interview that it was Ford who was his closest buddy when they filmed the original trilogy. But there was one incident (of probably a number we aren’t privy to) where an upset Ford took a saw to the Millenium Falcon set.
“You heard about Harrison taking a saw to the Millennium Falcon because he got so mad?” Hamill said. “People were coming up to me, going, ‘You gotta stop Harrison, he’s sawing up the Falcon.’ It was made of wood, and he just took a saw to it.’”
Hamill, eventually, was able to calm Ford down. “I love Harrison,” he continued. “I got to stop him because I can make him laugh when he gets really, really mad. And I had no stake in it. He was with Carrie, and I was still hanging out with Yoda. He’s hilarious. I told him, ‘If you ever play anyone that’s flawed, you’ll win an Oscar.’”
There was also a side of Ford that few rarely saw back in the day (which may be how it is for Ford in the present day as well). Mark Hamill claims Harrison Ford also has a very funny side, but he only lets it fly when he is comfortable around really close friends.
“He has this really specific way he wants to be seen, and I think that’s too bad because he’s really funny,” Hamill explained. “He’s got a wonderfully wacky sense of humor.”
Hamill then explained how he and Ford used to love bad disco songs together. Not only that, but the two of them would, when no one was looking in, have dressing room dance parties.
“This disco song that goes, ‘More, more, more, how d’ya like it, how d’ya like it,’ remember that?” Hamill recalled. “We used to love really bad pop songs, so whenever that song would come on, I’d run and turn it on. And he’d come into my dressing room and start dancing — But the minute somebody comes to the door, he’d stop dead and stand there [seriously saying] ‘Yeah, OK, I’ll be down to the set in a minute.’ As soon as the door closes, it’s, ‘Get the action gain’!’. He’d only do it around me.”
It was a friendship that started in the late ‘70s and has continued to this day. In fact, Harrison Ford even spoke at Mark Hamill’s Walk of Fame Ceremony, delivering his speech in classic Ford style. You can see it below.
MARK HAMILL HAS BEEN MARRIED TO MARILOU YORK FOR 44 YEARS
With Mark Hamill’s brief “up” lifting temptation with Fisher complete, he was free to play the field and that is exactly what he did. That is until he went to the dentist in Westwood. It was there that Hamill met Marilou York, a dental hygienist.
“She came into the waiting room in jeans, white coat, breasts like melons, looking like a Vargas painting,” he told PEOPLE. “I said, ‘They let you dress like that at work?’ She said, ‘Yeah. Next.’”
Hamill’s first “test” was their very first date. He took Marilou to see the Woody Allen film, Annie Hall. “I took her to Annie Hall to see if she had a sense of humor. I dropped women if they didn’t.” Marilou passed with flying colors.
Not long after that first date, there was another where Mark Hamill took Marilou to an early screening of Star Wars. All was going well, as expected, when on the screen was a close-up of a Star Wars character.
“There was this one close-up of a minor character, curling his lips back from his teeth. She leaned over to me and whispered, ‘Bad caps.’” Marilou had her own sense of humor.
But then the unfortunate fortunate thing happened. Star Wars shot through the roof and when it took off, the couple broke things off. Well, it was more Mark Hamill who made that choice.
“I had to taste groupies and fame,” he admitted. “I went to Las Vegas to date 38-year-old showgirls. I wanted to scale all these women. That was exciting for about the first 10 minutes. Eventually, I wanted something to hold onto—and a family.”
For her part, Marilou easily recalls that period of time when Mark went off to sow his wild oats. She says during that time she kept herself very busy. “I ran my own life. But all the time I thought I was good for him, so I was hoping we’d get back together.”
The two of them realized what they had and, more importantly, what they could lose. So, Mark Hamill pulled his head out of his rear and asked Marilou to marry him, to which she gladly accepted.
On December 17, 1978, they wed in Malibu, in the backyard of their home. It was nothing big, only a few friends were present. Sadly, the newly married couple wasn’t able to take a honeymoon, as Mark had a date with a lightsaber.
THEY HAVE THREE CHILDREN
That following June, they welcomed their first son, Nathan, while in England where they were living while Hamill was filming Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.
Marilou has been with Mark every step of the way in their 44-year marriage. She has been through the highs of Star Wars and the lows of Mark Hamill not getting the roles he truly wanted. The Hamills have two other children besides Nathan. Griffin Tobias was born in March 1983 and Chelsea Elizabeth graced them in July 1988.
All three of Mark Hamill’s children have ties to Star Wars and not simply by association with their father. Nathan, while being born during the filming of The Empire Strikes Back, also made a cameo appearance in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace when he appeared as one of the Royal Guards of Naboo.
Chelsea’s claim to fame came first in a photographic appearance as the baby Axel Walker in the 1990 TV series, The Flash. This same photo was used in the 2014 The Flash series. All three of Mark Hamill’s children made cameo appearances as Resistance soldiers in Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.
Although Mark Hamill felt the need to step away from Marilou early in their budding relationship, he ultimately knew she was the one, just like he knew it wouldn’t work with Fisher, and how he also knew that ending up with an actor for a wife would not work for him either, a lesson he learned in his early career when he dated Wyndham.
“You become competitive in a way, which is crazy, because I’m not going to take parts away from her, and vice versa. But I thought, ‘Well, she’s not the one, because I do want to have a family, and I’m not going to ask her to give up a career to raise the kids. And I’ll know when it’s right, I’ll find the right one.’ And luckily for me I did.”
HE WAS TYPECAST AS LUKE AFTER STAR WARS SO HE WENT TO BROADWAY
When Star Wars first took off, followed up by The Empire Strikes Back, Mark Hamill thought he was the shit. How could he not? He was a part (a major part at that) of two of the world’s biggest movies ever, so naturally, he felt Hollywood would welcome him with open arms. Sadly, he learned the hard way that this would not be the case.
Although Star Wars was a star maker, it was also the role of Luke Skywalker that pretty much pigeonholed him. As Hamill saw it, he was “stuck in one role. People weren’t letting me go out for [films] like Midnight Express, which I really wanted to go out for. They would say, ‘Oh no, we don’t need to see him. We saw Star Wars, he’s not right for it.’”
Case in point, Amadeus. It was a role Mark Hamill played on Broadway and it was a role he truly wanted to play when director Milos Forman was casting the part. In fact, Hamill was asked by Forman to not only read for the part but to read with the actors who were auditioning to play Mozart’s wife. Eventually, “Luke Skywalker” got in the way.
“I was actually told that to my face,” Hamill once explained to The Irish Times. “I did Amadeus on Broadway and when Milos Forman was making the film version, he asked me to come over and read with the actresses who were auditioning as Mozart’s wife. And I said: ‘Of course.’ Because I’m a huge Milos Forman fan. So I read with actress after actress after actress. And after several hours I said: ‘Milos, you know I’ve played Mozart?’ And he laughs.”
Hamill then does a nice impression of Forman, “‘Ho, ho, ho. No one is believing that the Luke Skywalker is the Mozart.’” In the end, Forman passed on Hamill for Tom Hulce, of Animal House fame, who went on to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance, an award that was given to F. Murray Abraham who played Salieri in that same film.
For Mark Hamill, though, it was the beginning of a career-long struggle with typecasting. “I thought well, you know, I’m an actor. If I am only going to play parts that are virtuous, and callow, and naïve, it’s really going to be limiting.”
Prior to Hamill getting a dose of Hollywood reality, he had tried to separate himself from the character of Luke Skywalker. He was brought on as Private Griff in the gritty World War II film, The Big Red One, in which he was in an ensemble cast that included Lee Marvin, Robert Carradine, Bobby Di Cicco, and Kelly Ward. It was a story that followed a war-hardened sergeant (Marvin) and four of his infantry unit soldiers as they tried to survive the horrors of the Second World War.
The typecast struggle was one in which he thought he finally found the answer. Mark Hamill stepped away from features for six years, taking his talents to Broadway. He had already starred on the big stage in the 1979 edition of The Elephant Man following that up with his time on Amadeus, so a return to the stage was not something Hamill was concerned with.
Hamill got Broadway roles in plays such as Harrigan ‘N Hart in 1985, Room Service in 1986, and The Nerd, which ran for two years, 1987 to 1988. During this time, Mark Hamill also nabbed a couple of roles on television with an appearance in 1986 on the series Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
Eventually, Mark Hamill would make his return to feature films. His first one back came in the 1989 feature, Slipstream, a sci-fi adventure film that did not take off. From there, it was one forgettable picture after another. Night of the Eagles, Midnight Ride, The Guyver, Black Magic Woman, Time Runner. None of them worked, at least not even close to the reception he had received with the Star Wars trilogy.
By contrast, Harrison Ford’s career was starting to go even bigger than his Han Solo days. Before he even jumped on the third Star Wars film, Ford became the legendary Indiana Jones. He turned that into Rick Deckard in Blade Runner, and right after Return of the Jedi and the second Indiana Jones film, he ran off a long string of successful films that included Witness, The Mosquito Coast, Frantic, Working Girl, another Indiana Jones adventure, and Presumed Innocent. Mark Hamill’s feature film resume never reached those heights.
Thankfully, it never did stop Mark Hamill from pushing forward with his acting career. He found time on a few TV series like Burke’s Law, SeaQuest 2032, and Just Shoot Me! as well as a few more forgettable feature films such as The Raffle, Silk Degrees, Village of the Damned, Laserhawk, and Watchers Reborn.
But during all of this time, going from one forgettable film to the next, he was building his resume in another way, one that would become almost as popular as his time as Luke Skywalker.
MARK HAMILL IS THE JOKER IN BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES AND IS A PROLIFIC VOICE ACTOR
When Mark Hamill took on his very first voice role in the 1972 animated series, The New Scooby-Doo Movies, little did he know that his professional life would eventually come full circle, if a full circle is what it’s to be called. Although Hamill dabbled a bit with voice roles early in his career, it wasn’t until he saw the writing on the wall in terms of the type of acting roles being offered that he began to turn his attention to doing voices.
In 1993, Mark Hamill started in earnest with his voice acting. He was first heard on Wild West C.O.W – Boys of Moo Mesa, The Little Mermaid TV series, and Hollyrock-a-Bye-Baby. That same year, Hamill also lent his voice to the popular video game, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father.
It was also in 1993 that the animated feature, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, was released, though it wasn’t the first time fans got to hear Mark Hamill’s rendition of the Joker.
Mark Hamill had teamed up with Kevin Conroy’s Batman a year earlier on Batman: The Animated Series and it was a hit. So much so that the feature animated film was produced. It would not be the last time the two would pair up as hero and villain.
In total, Mark Hamill would become the Joker well over a dozen times throughout his career, but not all of them involved Batman. These included The Batman Superman Movie: World’s Finest, The New Batman Adventures, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Justice League, Batman: New Times, and Batman: The Killing Joke. He also voiced the Joker in Static Shock, Superman: The Animated Series, Birds of Prey, and Justice League Action.
He became so popular with his take on the Joker that it wasn’t only in animated films or series that his Joker presence was requested. He was also big on the gaming circuit. Video games also became another outlet for Mark Hamill’s Joker as he was heard in titles like Batman: Vengeance, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, Batman: Arkham Knight, and Batman: Arkham VR.
“I’m a huge comic book fan, and I knew the caliber of talent they were putting together for the series, because I’m also a huge animation fan,” he says. “I adore the fact that I’m the voice of The Joker because 180 degrees removed from this icon of virtue [in Skywalker] is this depraved icon of villainy.”
He continued, “One of the things I love about voiceovers is it allows you to play characters you’d never get if you were on camera. And it’s liberating not to be seen. You can make outrageous choices that you wouldn’t make if the camera were this far from your face.”
Mark Hamill’s vocal career is actually quite eclectic after his Joker runs. His vocal credits also include Biker Mice from Mars, Loonatics Unleashed, Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!, SpongeBob SquarePants, Futurama: Bender’s Big Score, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Rick & Steve the Happiest Gay Couple in All the World, and Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too. These aren’t even scratching the surface.
He has returned to his Scooby-Doo roots on a few occasions while also finding time to head back to his galaxy far, far away when he voiced Darth Bane in Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series. Vocally, Mark Hamill has been everywhere and it doesn’t appear it will end anytime soon, though after the unfortunate passing of his Batman partner-in-crime, Kevin Conroy, in November 2022, his role as the Joker may officially be at an end.
Hamill remembers all the times he would get the call to voice the Joker. “They would call and say, ‘They want you to do Joker,’ and my only question was, ‘Is Kevin Batman?’ If they said yes, I would say, ‘I’m in.’” He continued, “We were like partners. We were like Laurel and Hardy. Without Kevin there, there doesn’t seem to be a Batman for me.”
There have been other actors in the past, and even in the present, to play the Joker and you can bet that the character will continue to appear in future Batman projects. In the past, actors such as Larry Storch, Lennie Weinrib, Kevin Michael Richardson, Jeff Bennett, Brent Spiner, and Jason Spisak have all portrayed the Clown Prince of Crime and currently, Jeremiah Watkins can be heard as Mr. J on DC Super Hero Girls.
The great vocal artist, Alan Tudyuk, voices the Joker on HBO Max’s Harley Quinn and in recent animated films, both Kevin Pollak and Troy Baker have also voiced The Clown Prince. Should Mark Hamill truly decide to step away from future Joker roles, it would truly be a shame. But it would also be completely understandable.
MARK HAMILL RETURNED FOR THE STAR WARS SEQUEL TRILOGY BUT THOUGHT THERE WERE MISTAKES
When Mark Hamill was first approached about returning to the role that made him a household name, he was very excited about the prospects. Time had a way of allowing him to put things in perspective, something that his younger self was unable to do.
“This time I’m going to appreciate it in a way I wasn’t able to as a young man,” Hamill said via the Mirror. “It’s kind of like Scrooge waking up on Christmas morning. The film is so special to so many people.”
He also knew how loathed he’d become if he had turned down the role. “It wasn’t like I had a choice. Can you imagine all those fans forming a mob around my house protesting that I had turned down the chance to do another Star Wars? I didn’t want to go from beloved icon to the most hated man in fandom.”
But what was at first a great opportunity to reunite with his old friends, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, quickly became one disappointment after another. First off, his appearance in the first of the sequel trilogy, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, came at the very end of the film, giving him a whole 10 seconds of screen time. Secondly, while Harrison Ford is a large part of that first film, he and Hamill never got a chance to reconnect.
Ford finally got his wish to kill off Han Solo but to many, it was a hollow death and one that left many thoroughly pissed. Take Marcia Lucas (again, George Lucas’s ex) as one who had nothing good to say about the film. First, she was not a fan of Rey’s story because “we don’t know how she got Jedi powers.” All in all, she felt the entire sequel trilogy “sucks.”
But it was the death of Han Solo that truly upset her. “They don’t get it. And JJ. Abrams is writing these stories — when I saw that movie where they kill Han Solo, I was furious. I was furious when they killed Han Solo. Absolutely, positively there was no rhyme or reason to it. I thought: You don’t get the Jedi story. You don’t get the magic of Star Wars. You’re getting rid of Han Solo?”
To be fair to JJ (if we must), he did not completely write The Force Awakens. The initial script was penned by Michael Arndt and it was then rewritten by both Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan. We may be splitting hairs here though.
As for Mark Hamill and his reaction to Luke’s death and what he had hoped for upon his return, he knew the plan was to kill off Luke as well, and he had to convince the directors to push back Luke’s death.
“That’s what I was hoping when I came back: no cameos and a run-of-the-trilogy contract. Did I get any of those things? Because as far as I’m concerned, the end of VII [his very brief cameo] is really the beginning of VIII,” Hamill complained. “I got one movie! They totally hornswoggled me.”
His reaction to his best pal, Han Solo, death was also one he felt was a “big mistake.” “I just thought, Luke’s never going to see his best friend again. You look at it in a self-centered way. I said that it was a big mistake that those three people would never reunite in any way,” Hamill said. Then it hit him, “Luke, Han, and Leia will never be together again, and I’ll probably never get to work with Harrison again.”
Mark Hamill even went to director Rian Johnson, who penned and directed Star Wars: Episode VII – The Last Jedi to explain to him. “I said to Rian, ‘Jedis don’t give up.’ I mean, even if [Luke] had a problem, he would maybe take a year to try and regroup, but if he made a mistake, he would try to right that wrong, so right there, we had a fundamental difference,” Hamill said.
“But it’s not my story anymore, it’s somebody else’s story and Rian needed me to be a certain way to make the ending effective. That’s the crux of my problem. Luke would never say that.”
Of course, Hamill’s comments created a firestorm that he eventually tried to put out. But even though he walked back some of his incendiary comments, it is apparent that he still has some bad feelings towards the way his character met his fate. He was recently asked on his Twitter account, “Do you have any anecdotes or memories from making the film you would be willing to share? Have you changed your mind about anything after these past 5 years? Would you have done anything differently? Thank you.”
Mark Hamill was short and sweet with his response, writing, “Not really. A little. Yes. You’re welcome.” Yep, he may not be over it. You can count on Johnson, though, as one person who has no regrets about the direction taken.
“I think it’s impossible for any of us to approach ‘Star Wars’ without thinking about it as a myth that we were raised with, and how that myth, that story, baked itself into us and affected us,” Johnson said. “The ultimate intent was not to strip away — the intent was to get to the basic, fundamental power of myth. And ultimately I hope the film is an affirmation of the power of the myth of ‘Star Wars’ in our lives.”
Thankfully, those final three Star Wars films were not the last fans got to see of Mark Hamill and Luke Skywalker. He did make an appearance (as a young Luke Skywalker where Hamill was de-aged) in The Mandalorian as well as the series, The Book of Boba Fett. Don’t be surprised if he also somehow shows up in the upcoming Disney+ Star Wars series, Ahsoka as well.
SEBASTIAN STAN COULD REPLACE MARK HAMILL AS LUKE SKYWALKER?
Rumors, rumors, and more rumors. One big one concerning Star Wars and its future revolved around Sebastian Stan, the actor who plays Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier in a number of Marvel films as well as on the Disney+ series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
The rumor was that Stan could be taking over the role of Luke Skywalker, and it was something that Stan addressed on Good Morning America, saying he’d need the right approval to take on the legendary character.
“If Mark Hamill called me, personally, to tell me he feels inclined to share this role with me, then I will believe it. Until then, I won’t believe it,” Stan said. After Hamill heard Stan’s comments, he took to his Twitter to respond. He wrote: “This assumes I have any say in casting decisions at Lucasfilm when in fact … I don’t.”
In September 2017, Hamill tweeted out apparent support for Stan as a possible Luke Skywalker, writing: “Sorry to disappoint you but I refuse to say “Sebastian Stan-I AM YOUR FATHER!” (even though, in fact, I am).” This joke was made in reference to both Hamill and Stan looking alike.
So, where does Mark Hamill go from here? He is still happily married and has been able to watch his three kids grow into fantastic adults. He has a career that includes one of the most iconic characters (regardless of how it ended) in the entire world. He has a voice acting career that has been very successful and if he never acts again, he should be fine. But there is still more to do.
One of Hamill’s next projects is a return to his Scooby-Doo roots again with Scoob!: Holiday Haunt. He also has a video game (Squadron 42) on its way as well. He has a TV movie, Relatively Super, along with two feature films, Thelomeris: City of Darkness and The Machine, but the big one coming up is a Netflix series, The Fall of the House of Usher based on an Edgar Allan Poe story.
Does Mark Hamill have any thoughts on his legacy, not that he plans on going anywhere soon or retiring from the acting gig? For his answer to that, Hamill first refers to himself as the clown prince he was in all of those Batman stories.
“I mean, I am just so lucky because I’m a fool. I’m a player, I’m a clown,” he said in a recent interview. “That’s all I wanted to do when I was a kid. I was the middle of seven children. I loved to make my brothers and sisters laugh. I had an ear for dialects, and I could imitate our relatives. I used humor as a weapon, or as a defense mechanism. If there were bullies, or jocks, I could always make them laugh — and that’s really disarming. If a guy wants to punch you in the face, you make fun of yourself. That’s reassuring to an aggressor.”
But if his legacy means he is only remembered for one thing, at least it is a big one thing, and it was truly something he never thought would happen.
“Look, I never expected to be remembered for anything. So already that’s a win,” Hamill says. “I was just happy being a working actor. I’m as happy when I’m doing off-Broadway for 500 seats as I am doing a movie that [will] be seen by millions. I mean…to be able to say it’s my 47th year as a professional actor? That’s something I never would have dreamed.”
We definitely don’t need any convincing. His Luke Skywalker is what little boys dreamed of being when they first saw him pick up a lightsaber to fight. In the 46 years since that time, this has not changed. We will go with Mark Hamill to a galaxy far, far away anytime.
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