I’m off to see Star Wars The Force Awakens (more Star Wars musings here) this Wednesday in 3D, which will be a trial and a tribulation; probably equal to the trials and tribulations the new Star Wars crew will be going through this time around. I don’t do well with three dimensions; to qualify that (since I live quite happily in a 3D world) – me and a projection of the real world, up there on a cinema screen, don’t mix very well.
My brain doesn’t understand that it’s sitting immobile in a cramped cinema seat, when my body appears to be rolling around up there on a gigantic screen, whatever the situation. I’m expecting the Star Wars experience to be particularly tough on the old noggin, when the star ships start flying around.
But 3D seemed to be the only way to go, when you’re off to see the most ardently anticipated return of the Jedis in 38 years.
I saw the first Star Wars movie many Sci-Fi moons ago in the 70’s, and astonishingly it barely registered on my Sci-Fi radar, being that I was more of a rabid Star Trek girl. Strange to say, but a film that broke the Sci-Fi mould in every possible way, didn’t seem to fit the space age genre. It was too ‘clunky’, too ‘real’, too ‘ordinary’ in its outer space, futuristic ordinariness. A strange Western/Buck Rogers/Fairy Tale mash up; like George Lucas unknowingly took every favourite childhood book he’d ever read, and transferred those stories into one lunatic story involving every character type from kids literature.
The other reason Mr Skywalker passed me by was because 1977 was the year I sat the dreaded ‘O’ Levels and my diary at the time is full of entries like “must start swotting but can’t be bothered” and “the exams are closer than I thought, must start swotting” – I was too busy worrying about all that non-swotting, and going to parties I hated, and being forced into staying on the netball team to notice that 1977 was also the year that Star Wars changed cinema history.
I do remember Harrison Ford though, as being the break out star from the original trilogy. He stole the show, and quite a few teenaged girls’ hearts, and it would appear that this latest Star Wars instalment features Han Solo in a pivotal role – which means quite riled up am I on behalf of Mr Mark Hamill.
Since getting wind that a new Star Wars vision was in the offing, using the same director who re-envisioned my beloved Star Trek, I decided to find out about the whereabouts of the old crew; namely Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. Harrison Ford went on to a major movie career, but the other two I knew practically nothing about; except that Carrie Fisher had gone the drugs, drink and rock ‘n’ roll route, subsequently suffering from mental health disorders and had found fame writing semi-autobiographical books about her weird childhood with her famous mother – Debbie Reynolds.
Mark Hamill was a mystery. A few years ago I’d mentioned to son No. 1, sometime after the Star Wars Prequel mania (which turned out to be a mania of disappointment in most Sci-Fi lunacy quarters) that Mark Hamill had disappeared without trace; that he was a nobody, an acting non-entity. Son No.1 had vehemently pulled me up on this hastily cruel summation of Mr Hamill’s post-Star Wars career, informing me that Hamill voiced the Joker on the Batman cartoon series, for which he was very famous indeed – something I’d never watched, nor was ever likely to.
This led me to YouTube where I discovered that Mark Hamill had been very much alive and well all these years, becoming a kind of Voice Over/Voice Actor King, supplying voices for every cartoon out there since the early 70’s. Shows like:
Avatar: The Last Airbender (I remember this one fondly as it was son No. 3’s favourite)
What’s New Scooby Doo
The Powerpuff Girls
The New Batman Adventures
Cow and Chicken
And on and on. These telly progs dominated my kids’ goggle boxed lives, so it came as a MASSIVE surprise to discover that Luke the Jedi had been such an integral part of their childhood.
Fascinated I checked out just about everything to do with Mark Hamill via YouTube and, as a result, came to the conclusion that Mark Hamill (whose movie career peaked and effectively ended 30 years ago) is the NICEST bloke on this or any other planet; as well as being engaging, witty, intelligent and a brilliant mimic.
Check out his audition tape for the role of Luke Skywalker – this is his actual read through for the part, with Harrison Ford who remains out of shot almost the whole time.
You’d do anything for that kid wouldn’t you? He’s so sincere, so open, so lacking in guile but full of a kind of unknowing ‘cool.’ No wonder Lucas immediately signed him up for the role that he’d never quite fully shake.
Hamill knows that his career ground to a halt after its finest moments. That Harrison Ford stole all the glory and ran with it. That Ford got all the best lines in the old trilogy; that Ford’s world-weary cynicism worked better than Luke’s wide-eyed innocence; that Ford got the girl and Luke most decidedly didn’t.
But he’s been just so darned gracious about it all.
Any other actor may have turned to drink, drugs, or a party life-style to drown his sorrows, or become slightly bitter and twisted, but Mark Hamill is that rare thing in the acting profession – an uncomplicated Mr Nice Guy, somebody who actually likes people, who acknowledges the debt he owes to Star Wars and its fans and who goes out of his way to maintain a relationship with those fans; not thinking himself above the nerdy, geeky nature of it all. In fact he’s as geeky about the whole thing as they are. An actor who has been married for 37 years to a dental hygienist, the girl he met when getting his teeth fixed after the car crash that drastically altered his matinee idol looks. And who had the strength of character to not mind that he’d lost that early signature Luke Skywalker look.
But, yet again, whose star is going to shine in this latest space saga outing and whose star will remain hidden?
I’ve still to see the thing, but it’s obvious from the trailers that Han Solo is back and back big time, whilst Luke is absent from the posters, from the trailers, from everything. This seems like another Star Wars-type stab in the back to Hamill. Hamill who attends every Star Wars convention and can talk about Star Wars minutiae for hours and hours; who goes to Comic-Cons, who is so amenable, approachable and chatty in interviews. Who appears to have a genuine fondness for the franchise and his character. Whilst Harrison Ford has spent his entire career (kick started by Star Wars) slagging the whole thing off; slagging off the fan-based hysteria and obsession with every Star Warsian detail; affecting (or maybe not) that he simply doesn’t give a damn about the Star Wars thing; that his one aim in the original trilogy was to be killed off, so he could escape the whole stupid shebang (the stupid shebang that made his name.)
Watch or listen to Harrison Ford in interviews and see/hear the discomfort, the being on guard, the dismissive way he answers questions (actually ‘boring’ is a better description) or deals with fellow interviewees – a star who doesn’t care about the audience at all. And why should he when people will obviously pay to go see him anyway, even when the vibe he gives off is that most of his paying customers are idiots.
But then again, maybe he’s very, very shy or something. Maybe he likes acting but not the other stuff that comes with it.
Just recently Ford seems to have mellowed a bit re: his condescending view of the Star Wars universe, actually stating at a recent Force Awakens Comic Con appearance that he now feels ‘blessed’ with regard to Han Solo, rather than ‘haunted’ by the character. But I’ve pledged my allegiance to the LOVELY, FUNNY, SMART and VERSATILE Mark Hamill and am really, really hoping that Luke’s appearance in The Force Awakens is going to be more than just a brief cameo – but I’m not holding out much hope for the old ‘new hope.’
If Luke’s screen time is negligible, then I’m pinning my hopes on episode VIII, and that maybe Mr Hamill returns, and gets to exercise his movie acting skills, rather than remaining a cloaked figure forever standing in the shadow of the taciturn and irascible Harrison Ford.