It was August 2012, and Lucasfilm was holding its sixth edition of Star Wars Celebration. While the fan festival was set in Orlando, in the shadow of the Magic Kingdom, Disney was still two months away from announcing its intention to buy George Lucas’s production studio, Lucasfilm, and all its Star Wars assets.
Mark Hamill was in town to appease the Force fanatics, and although Lucas had toyed with a third trilogy over the decades, Hamill remained under the assumption that he’d never play Luke Skywalker again. After all, he had it on good authority. Hamill had spoken with the filmmaker after he wrapped 2005’s Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, “and [Lucas] said, ‘You know what, after I do this, I’m done,” Hamill recalled to Yahoo Entertainment while promoting Star Wars: The Last Jedi (watch above). The actor remembered asking, “‘You’re not doing VII, VIII, and IX?’ He said, ‘Look, I don’t want to be doing these things in my 70s.’
“Plus, to my knowledge,” Hamill continued, “I was never going to be in VII, VIII, IX, anyway. It was going to be in the future with all new characters.”
Flash-forward to that fateful Star Wars Celebration in Orlando. Lucas summons Hamill and screen sister Carrie Fisher to a meeting. “He says, ‘I’m retiring from Lucasfilm; I’m turning it over to Kathy Kennedy, and she wants to do a new trilogy, and if you don’t want to do it, we won’t recast — we’ll just write you out somehow,” Hamill explained.
The reactions of Hamill and Fisher (who died in 2016), the actor recalled, couldn’t have been more different. While Hamill claimed to be keeping Jedi-like cool on the outside while freaking out on the inside, “Carrie went, ‘I’m in!’”
“I mean, she didn’t even wait. When the meeting was over, I said, ‘Carrie, are you out of your mind? Poker face!’ She cut right to the chase. She said, ‘Mark, what kind of roles are there in Hollywood for women over 50?’ As usual, she was so far ahead of me in that regard.”
Hamill admitted that he dragged his feet a bit on the decision. He was deeply satisfied with the saga’s original trilogy and concerned that making an inferior product would turn the fan base against him. “It took me a long time, but I thought, ‘This is the chance of a lifetime.’”
Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens Friday.
Watch the cast of The Last Jedi talk about watching Fisher’s performance in the film:
Read more on Yahoo Entertainment:
- ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ honors late Carrie Fisher at elaborate premiere
- Daisy Ridley and John Boyega explain how ‘Star Wars’ changed their lives
- The porg problem: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ cast sounds off on movie’s polarizing space penguins