Mark Hamill speaks highly of ‘space twin’ Carrie Fisher and director Rian Johnson
A crucial pep talk from the director also prevented the science-fiction icon becoming a bag of nerves.
The responsibility of matching the sky-high expectations of the space saga’s fans weighed so heavily on him that Mark decided to come clean to writer-director Rian Johnson.
“I told him, ‘I don’t want to tempt fate but our original trilogy had a beginning, a middle and an end, and you can’t catch lightning in a bottle twice. Truth be told, I’m terrified’.
“Rian replied, ‘So am I’ and instantly became a director I could love.”
Carrie was one of a kind, a ferociously funny, take-charge woman who took our collective breath away. She played such a crucial role in my life professionally and personally.
Johnson, with a handful of Breaking Bad episodes and independent films behind him, was similarly daunted to be working with his childhood hero Hamill but they talked it over and got through their fears together.
Mark, 66, says: “He was my seeing eye dog and I could not have done it without him.
“I totally turned over my performance to Rian and knew if he was satisfied then we got it right.
“I said to him one of the reasons I loved (spin-off film) Rogue One and the Star Wars prequels so much was that I was not in them.
“I could relax and enjoy them without anxiety.”
Anxiety this time came from carrying so much of the storyline and dialogue, having only had a silent cameo in 2015’s Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
“In the last film you discover Luke as a hermit on an island in the final scene. I turn around, remove my hood and that’s it.”
This time he drives the story and one of the most eagerly awaited scenes in Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is Luke’s reunion with sister Leia, played by the late Carrie Fisher.
It was the first time they had shared the screen as those characters in 34 years.
Carrie had completed all her scenes by the time she died in December 2016 and her loss is deeply felt by Mark, along with Star Wars fans galaxy-wide.
Hamill calls her death “downright heartbreaking”.
He says: “Carrie was one of a kind, a ferociously funny, take-charge woman who took our collective breath away.
“She played such a crucial role in my life professionally and personally.
“I’m grateful for the laughter, the wisdom and the kindness of my beloved space twin.”
The late Carrie Fisher will feature in The Last Jedi, having completed her filming before her death
He has another much-admired actor to work with here in the form of Daisy Ridley, whose character Rey found Luke on that island.
There have been no “Wookieleaks” about what happens next and Mark was on mischievous form when he promised an exclusive look at the Episode 8 trailer on social media only to post a picture of his actual trailer on the set.
But Daisy has given a few clues about what happens when the action picks up immediately from Rey’s meeting with her idol Luke Skywalker on that island.
“Rey has a certain expectation of what she might get from Luke but, as a lot of people know, it’s difficult when you meet your heroes because it might not be what you expect,” she shared.
In the latest film Rey meets idol Luke Skywalker
She and fellow 25-year-old Briton John Boyega, who plays good guy Finn, are now heroes to fans of the saga but they don’t take that love for granted.
Daisy says: “I was never really a fan of anything, so I’m still wowed by the feelings people have for this.
“It’s so much more than a film.
In a world of awful divisiveness it’s wonderful that everyone is brought together in unity and positivity.”
The Last Jedi is hoped to revive film ticket sales
John agrees: “You have people all over the world that you don’t know who love what you’ve done for their beloved franchise.
“It’s like you’re doing them a service and it’s wild to experience their appreciation.”
Mark Hamill adds: “The Star Wars fans have fuelled the movies since the beginning.
“They are ultrapassionate fans.
Mark Hamill was anxious about reprising his role after his cameo in The Force Awakens
“They know more about the films than I do because I haven’t seen the films since they were in movie theatres.
“I never watched them at home. They constantly know all the details like I never could.
“It’s rare to see people so transported with joy and I enjoy that. It’s almost moving when you think about how we’ve inspired so many people and that it’s become a generational thing which original fans have passed down to their children.”
Since shooting to worldwide attention in the original three Star Wars films, Hamill has appeared in occasional movies over the years, including a memorable role in 2014’s Kingsmen, but has mainly worked in voiceover parts including as The Joker in the animated Batman series and its various spin-offs and video games.
John Boyega is thankful for the ace Star Wars fans who will be keen for some more Finn/Poe bromance
Luke Skywalker remains his signature role and he’s proud and pleased with that – as well as the fact that the fame has never gone to his head.
His wife, Marilou York, and three children make sure of that.
“After filming we go back to our everyday lives where instead of having adoring fans around me my wife is telling me to pick up after the dogs and take out the trash. It’s very unglamorous.”
The mission for Luke, Finn, Rey and the rest in this film is not only to restore balance to the Force but also to the box office.
The movie industry is suffering a wretched year with cinema admissions way down following the worst summer takings in more than a decade.
Now the whole of cinema is looking to the new Star Wars blockbuster to be such a smash hit that it reverses the balance sheet and brings movie fans flocking back to cinemas in huge numbers.
Does Luke still have enough Jedi magic to make that happen?
We’ll find out when The Last Jedi opens worldwide on Friday.