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Mark Hamill Is Leveraging His ‘Star Wars’ Moment for All It’s Worth

Director needling, spoiler tempting, and diet complaints — all in a day’s work for the once and future Luke Skywalker

(AP Images/Ringer illustration)
(AP Images/Ringer illustration)

Mark Hamill has some thoughts on Star Wars. That’s fine. Hamill is ingrained in our pop-cultural memory as Luke Skywalker. He’s entitled to his opinion. After spending 32 years away from the franchise, he’s back; early reports (and a trailer) suggest that Luke is going to be a fundamental part of December’s The Last Jedi. So Hamill’s weighing in.

"I at one point had to say to Rian, ‘I pretty much fundamentally disagree with every choice you’ve made for this character. Now, having said that, I have gotten it off my chest, and my job now is to take what you’ve created and do my best to realize your vision.’" That’s Hamill recalling to Vanity Fair a conversation he had with Episode VIII director Rian Johnson.

Mark Hamill is a legend. I dressed up as Luke Skywalker as a kid. But Mark Hamill is also a proscuitto-grade ham, prone to jokes and pranks and earnest discussions about "what my character’s motivations are here" with the stressed-out director in charge of steering a nine-figure spaceship. He’s lobbing insults, and retroactive criticism, and possible spoilers. He’s behaving like the most obnoxious movie star in history, which is to say: He’s making up for lost time. Hamill’s signature quality — his always-on-ness, his perma-performativeness — is threatening to topple the NDA’d-to-hell Star Wars industrial complex. I love it so much.

Here’s Mark Hamill complaining about his diet to Rolling Stone back in December 2015, while promoting The Force Awakens:

"‘Look at what I’m eating now instead of potato chips and bagels,’ he adds, gesturing to a fruit-and-vegetable plate. ‘I’m on the "if it tastes good, don’t eat it" diet.’"

Here’s Hamill complaining about his diet in May 2017 to Vanity Fair, while promoting The Last Jedi:

"You just cut out all the things you love," he said. "Something as basic as bread and butter, which I used to start every meal with. Sugar. No more candy bars. No more stops at In-N-Out. It’s really just a general awareness, because in the old days I’d go, ‘Well, I’m not that hungry, but oh, here’s a box of Wheat Thins,’ and you don’t put the Wheat Thins in the same category as Lay’s potato chips, and yet I would sort of idly, absentmindedly eat these things while watching Turner Classic Movies, and ‘Oh, I ate the whole box!’"

Mark Hamill is seriously bummed about having to lose weight to act in the biggest movie franchise in history. Let it be said that sexagenarian men have it easier in Hollywood than just about anyone else; Hamill’s late costar Carrie Fisher was told to lose weight for Star Wars way back in the ’70s, and I’m certain the studio did so in a less gentle manner. Mark Hamill is incensed about having to skip out on In-N-Out.

But that’s not all. He’s complimenting Rian Johnson at the big Star Wars convention in Orlando in a tone somewhere between loving and condescending. ("His films are … all so ambitious in their own way," he said, which is generous in a "how cute" way.) He’s threatening to blow up the suspense around the mysterious nature of the relationship between Skywalker and Daisy Ridley’s Rey. He’s railing against his absence in That Gnarly Scene from The Force Awakens as "a great missed opportunity." And he’s giving Rian Johnson notes about his character.

This is all happening because Mark Hamill has Star Wars over a barrel. After Return of the Jedi, Hamill spent years in the Hollywood wilderness before carving out a career doing theater and voiceover work, mostly as the Joker in Batman shows and movies. But then he learned that Star Wars wanted him back — that, thanks to Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams’s desire to replicate the original trilogy in carbonite down to the original actors, Mark Hamill would finally get to be the movie star he almost was. So he’s behaving like a diva. Of course he’s behaving like a diva! He has the leverage of a leading man, only he didn’t have to be a leading man to get it — he just had to star in three beloved movies 40 years ago.

And you know what? This is a good thing. Mark Hamill is an agent of chaos, introducing a little bit of uncertainty into what is surely the most stage-managed franchise rollout of all time. He is making Lucasfilm anxious, and I’m sure he will continue to do so — one diet complaint at a time — until The Last Jedi hits movie theaters in December. He is breathing a little bit of Wheat Thins–scented air into this Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon. Mark Hamill is finally a movie star, and he’s finally acting like one.