Mark Hamill unearths 'Star Wars' memories on Reddit

Actor reveals his favorite moments working with Harrison Ford, what he thinks of the infamous "holiday special," and whether he's in Episode VII -- in his first Ask Me Anything interview on Reddit.

Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
11 min read
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker.
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. Lucasfilm

Iconic "Star Wars" actor Mark Hamill fielded questions on Reddit on Wednesday, revealing bits about his role as Luke Skywalker and whether he will appear in the next "Star Wars" film directed by J.J. Abrams.

Below are highlights culled from his Ask Me Anything interview.

On whether Hamill expected "Star Wars" to be such a critical success:

"I didn't expect it to be a critical success. I thought people would like it, because it took so many elements from movies we were familiar with -- pirate, cowboy movies, war movies -- and added humor. That's the thing that got me. Science fiction usually isn't funny. They have an 8-foot furry dog driving a spaceship, he's naked except headphones, that's funny. Even if it doesn't get great reviews it'll be a cult movie. People will go watch it at midnight because it's so unique. I thought it would be popular but never thought it would be on the cover of Time magazine."

On picking up those pesky power converters:

"I get ribbed for that line because it was so whiney. And I remember at the time, I had to make it as juvenile as possible so that I can show how Luke matures later. So it should be embarrassing. It should be whiney and childish. But boy, has it come back to haunt me. I don't think I ever got the chance to finally pick them up."

On first meeting Harrison Ford:

"I'd seen him in 'American Graffiti,' and I did the screen tests with him. We just fell into our character roles. Luke idolizes Han Solo, it was such a great role because Han was the cynic, he was the modern role in this fairly tale. It was just the right element in the stew for all the cynics in the audience. I just thought Harrison was fantastic, so perfect for the part. We fell into the role of mentor/student. They couldn't have made a better choice, and he can do no wrong. He's got a great sense of humor; it was fun to try to make him laugh."

Mark Hamill thought of co-star Harrison Ford as a mentor on the set of "Star Wars."
Mark Hamill thought of co-star Harrison Ford as a mentor on the set of "Star Wars." Lucasfilm

On whether he's in the new "Star Wars: Episode VII" film:

"The only character I know for sure is returning is my friend R2-D2. He hasn't stopped beeping about it."

On movie spoilers and keeping the secret that Darth Vader was Luke's father:

"(Director) Irvin Kershner brought me aside, and said, 'I know this, George knows this, and you'll be the third person who knows. If it goes out we'll know you leaked it.' So I was terrified of being the one to ruin it. I remember when they screened it, Harrison turned around and said 'I didn't know that! Why the f*&^ didn't you tell me?!' I'm good at keeping secrets -- especially when the goal it to maximize the enjoyment of the audience. That's why I'm worried about Episode VII, they're going after casting sheets! I'm someone who doesn't want to know what I'm getting for my birthday. My sisters would go through the closets at Christmas, and I hated that. I'm trying to keep the surprises for the movies, not for the Internet. I hate spoilers, I like being surprised. There's a natural curiosity, and a competition to see who can reveal the most. I beg people, please let's keep it a surprise! Don't you want to be surprised? I know I do."

On drinking blue milk in "Star Wars":

"It was ghastly! Since it was a prop, I wanted to matter of factly have a sip, but they used this milk that doesn't need to be refrigerated. It was sweet. It's moments like that when I think, boy, I really am a good actor since I didn't gag. I can't remember the name, it comes in these triangular cartons, it's everlasting milk or something like that. I don't know if they still make it. It's sweet and syrupy and yucky. If you want to try it go to a camping store and drop some blue food coloring in it and there you go."

On which scene from "Star Wars" he'd like to change:

"There was a scene at the beginning of the first movie that was cut out. When you're first introduced to Luke, he's on the farm and he sees the robots -- when R2-D2 and C-3PO eject -- he races to the club, and you see what his life is like on Tatooine. This beautiful actress calls him wormy. I loved it because you saw that he wasn't well-liked by his peers, and he bumps into Garrick Hagon (Biggs Darklighter), and Luke is really excited because he has joined the Empire, and Luke is so anxious to get off the farm and find his lot in life. He's thrilled that Biggs has joined the Empire, and feels as soon as he'd get the chance he'd join the Rebel Alliance. This shows that Luke is apolitical, and joining the Empire is even attractive to him. They changed to get to the plot faster, so now it goes straight to the fourth scene. The only place you can see it is the novelization of the screenplay. With all the tweaking and adaptations, why not put it in to add detail to the story that's not there?"

Biggs Darklighter (Garrick Hagon) chats with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in a cut scene from "Star Wars."
Biggs Darklighter (Garrick Hagon) chats with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in a cut scene from "Star Wars." Lucasfilm

On what it was really like being stuck inside a dead tauntaun:

"Warm and cozy. I also got inside a bantha, those creatures that were outside the cantina. The inside of it was pasted over with newspapers and glue to give it substance, I thought, 'This is really odd.' I also got inside of Jabba, which was like a sauna bath, because it's like a big rubber enclosure. All the puppeteers had gone to lunch and I wondered what it's like in there."

On whether he tries to pick up his TV remote across the room using the Force:

"That's the thing, that's what fairy tales are made of. You wish you could do all these things, fly like Peter Pan, telekinesis I think it's called. You should always believe. Don't go through life being skeptical. One thing that makes the films distinct is how optimistic they are. The philosophy is very uplifting and very positive. It was a way to approach the subject of spirituality without knocking you over the head with it. The Force could be religion, science, magic. I love that people can make what they want of it, and that they could find courage in their life. I've heard so many stories about what a positive thing it's been for people. Keep trying to make that remote lift, never give up. One day it will happen."

On his favorite lightsaber color:

"I just worked with Samuel L. Jackson and he reminded me he had a purple lightsaber, which nobody had. I thought that was cool that he got his own color. My favorite is green, I'm happy with what I had. You don't need to give me lavender or raw umber or whatever."

On "The Star Wars Holiday Special":

"I thought it was a mistake from the beginning. It was just unlike anything else in the Star Wars universe. And I initially said that I didn't want to do it, but George said it would help keep Star Wars in the consciousness and I wanted to be a team player so I did it. And I also said that I didn't think Luke should sing, so they cut that number. And now, I think we shouldn't be ashamed of it. They should put [it] on the extra of the DVDs -- it shows how incredibly fallible we are! At that same time, it did introduce Boba Fett in an animated sequence, so it's significant in that respect. Plus Art Carney was in it, who is one of my favorite comedic actors of all time."

Actor Mark Hamill answered fan questions on everything from Yoda to dating advice on his AMA Reddit.
Actor Mark Hamill answered fan questions on everything from Yoda to dating advice on his AMA Reddit. Mark Hamill

On "Star Wars" fans:

"Star Wars fans over the years have become so familiar to me. And they are so warm and so supportive, they're almost like family. I'm so grateful to them in so many ways. You're always taken aback because I don't think of it on a day-to-day basis, then you go to one of these celebrations or fan conventions. I call them UPF's, ultra passionate fans, and they are very special to all of us, me especially."

On not finishing Jedi school:

"Ha! I didn't know that I hadn't! That's the problem, there are people who know more about the Star Wars universe than I do! People will scream at me if I get IG88's name wrong, on the movie it was just the medical droid. We called things the dustbin robot, we had pet names for things. People know so much more about it than I do. I didn't go to proper Jedi school, I was just tutored by Obi-Wan and Yoda, that was the closest thing to school. Then I dashed off against Obi's wishes, he didn't think I was ready. He was probably right."

On what Yoda was really like:

"He was unexpected, because the audience and Luke both thought a Jedi Master must be 6'5" with a formidable physical presence. But that was the whole point, he was a little toad-like creature. Frank Oz and the people who imbued him with life were spectacular, I loved that whole experience. I could tell it was a monumental character to be introducing in the second installment, I loved it. The minute I looked at him, he was real to me. You notice that with small children, the puppeteer isn't hiding what he's doing but the kids are zeroed in on Oscar or Grover or whoever, again it's that childlike ability to believe and I never want to feel like I lose that. I was marveling at what a breakthrough puppet it was with the movement and the way they could build something like this, but if it hadn't been for Frank Oz and Lawrence Kasdan writing that script it would have been a much different story. And I loved Yoda and still do."

While training to be a Jedi as Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill often gave Yoda a lift.
While training to be a Jedi as Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill often gave Yoda a lift. Lucasfilm

On whether he kept props or memorabilia from filming "Star Wars":

"I kept something from each film. From the first I kept my boots. I had to ask for them, I didn't just take them! I kept the stormtrooper helmet that I rescued Princess Leia in. The ones that were commercially made last much longer. I have little bits and pieces from each of the movies. I would never think of selling these things. I saw they were auctioning my pants from the first film for $44,000! They were just bleached out Levis with the pockets ripped out. There were multiples made for me and my stunt double. That seemed like a really steep price."

On whether older Luke Skywalker should have a beard:

"Based on what has gone before, I have a feeling it's a beard, but I have no confirmation of that. My wife said if you grow a beard, you'll cover up your cleft chin. That's not something that occurred to me. But I can only guess. I've never read any of the novelizations or anything but someone said to me, 'You're married, you have children.' Based on Obi-Wan I would have guessed I'd be living in an igloo or something. He was more spiritual, he didn't have a wife or children. And when you find out one of the only eligible women in the galaxy is your sister, it really cuts down on your odds of hooking up with anyone. But that's not what these movies are about. The charm of the trilogy is it appeals to the child in all of us. It goes back to playing in your backyard. It's very primal, it's good versus evil, a high sense of adventure."

On his preference to Wookiees or Droids:

"Just for the sake of loyalty, it would have to be R2-D2 and C-3PO. Han had the Wookiee. I love the fact that C-3PO was so unhappy being thrust into these adventures. He'd be so much happier working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. C-3PO was one of the funniest characters in those movies, I thought."

Even Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew stopped by to say hello:

"The people on Reddit were very kind to me when I did my AMA, hope you enjoy this community," Mayhew said. "Speak soon I'm sure. Cheers, Peter Mayhew."

"Thanks Peter, they've been great and I'm really enjoying it," Hamill responded. "I love you and you have been a life-long friend. And I'm convinced there's no one closer to a real-life Wookiee in the most positive sense. Also, I loved those pictures you released! I've got a ton of old pics from the set upstairs that I want to go through now."

Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) stopped by Mark Hamill's AMA to say hello. That's one friendly, Wookiee.
Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) stopped by Mark Hamill's AMA to say hello. That's one friendly, Wookiee. Lucasfilm

On whether he's rather battle 100 Ewok-sized AT-AT's or 1 AT-AT sized Ewok:

"Probably the one AT-AT sized Ewok, because you'd probably have a better chance. If you had a 100 little things they could swarm all over you like ants on a glob of honey. Maybe you'd have the chance of hiding and not catching his attention, or you could climb up behind him and hang on and hope he gets tired. Obviously, I've given a lot of thought to this."

On his preference for playing villains or heroes:

"Villains are more fun to play. When I first read 'Star Wars,' I wondered who was playing Darth, it sounded so fun to play. I loved playing the Joker because he's used sparingly, you never get too much of him. And he creates havoc and then shows up 12 episodes later. I just hope it's a good script. Not that I have a good eye for what's popular. When I read the first script for 'The Regular Show' I thought it was too weird for young people, it's surreal. I didn't think it had a chance but now it's on its sixth season."

On working with Make-A-Wish Foundation:

I love the feeling that you can give something back, because you've been so fortunate in your own life. Working with Make-A-Wish you feel like, gee, my real career feels so trivial in comparison. It makes you wish you could do that charitable activity all the time. I love this organization. I've helped them over the years, but they'll never be able to top Batkid, that was the most amazing feel good story. The way the community turned out. it's something you can go to when you're feeling particularly depressed about how rotten people are, usually when you're watching politics. Then Batkid comes along. The mayor, the sports icons, rescuing the lady that was tied up, it was just too much. It was amazing. That kid couldn't have been cuter if it was a cartoon that Disney drew."

To find out how to help raise money for Make-A-Wish and for a chance to win a tour of Skywalker Ranch and to hang out with Hamill, click here.