Mark Richard Hamill is an American actor, voice actor, producer, director, and writer. He is best known for portraying Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy, voicing the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, and voicing Skips in the Cartoon Network series Regular Show. He has also lent his voice to various villains and anti-heroes in other animated productions such as Firelord Ozai in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
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Hello everybody! Mark Hamill here. I'm excited to talk to you reddit. You're a smart bunch. And I hope I can offer some interesting insights (or fun stories) on anything you want to discuss.
I would have waited to do this until Star Wars day but I'm doing a campaign to help support Make-A-Wish, and if you want to enter, you guys can win a chance to fly to Skywalker Ranch meet George Lucas, and then hang with me at Nerdist studios. You can enter here http://www.omaze.com/starwars
Thanks in advance for your support.
Now - on to the questions! AMA!
Alright reddit, gotta head out. I had a great time talking to you all. Thanks a lot for your questions. I hope you'll have me back again down the road. Until then, MTFBWY.
Hi Mark, the people on reddit were very kind to me when I did my AMAA, hope you enjoy this community. Speak soon I'm sure. Cheers,
Thanks Peter, they've been great and I'm really enjoying it. 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.
This is an intensely personal question I've often thought about asking you.
You are going to be immortal, man. Long after all of us are dead, the image of you as Luke Skywalker will be like Superman, or Harry Potter, or Gandalf, or Jesus. Even if the films are remade, your depiction of Luke will always be a spectre over whomever is playing him.
Are you humbled by this? Terrified? Typecast? Would you rather be known as a fictional character or the person portraying him?
Great question. Well, I'm all those things. I'm certainly humbled. But's hard to really wrap one's head around. I didn't get into this business to be famous, I got in because I really like communicating. I wasn't even sure I was going to be an actor. So I look at that as Luke, not really as me. Luke is immortal and I'm just an actor who got the honor to play him.
You just have to just stay focused on what challenges you and what inspires you. And that's why I went to Broadway because I thought I'd get to explore new things. I'm not really somehow who goes back and re-watches old stuff I've done. I haven't seen any of the films since they were in the theater - originals or prequels. I thought the prequels are amazing by the way. If we were a garage band, they were a philharmonic. As George said, Star Wars is the most expensive small low movie ever made. Sorry, I think I got off on a tangent on this question.
Apparently Carrie Fisher let it slip that you guys will be in Episode 7, any response?
The only character I know for sure is returning is my friend R2-D2. He hasn’t stopped beeping about it.
Hey Mark. Huge fan in just about every possible way, but I had to share this story and find out if it is true.
I have this friend who used to be a plmber in New York city. He often claims to not only have done work for you, but that you are pretty close friends. So I had to share this story and ask.
He used to work for this plumbing company and on occasion would do work for some high profile clients. Because of his professionalism and knowledge, the company would purposefully give him those jobs.
He was telling me about being in your apartment and was halfway up a ladder and working on something in the ceiling of your bathroom. You had let him be and left the room while your kids played video games in another room. Now, for whatever reason, things became difficult and he was in the ceiling for a long long time. So he would stand there and listen to your kids complain about how difficult this part in the Legend of Zelda was. They were begging you to help them get past it and you either refused or you had trouble yourself. But he kept his mouth shut about Zelda and about how increasingly frustrated he was getting in his work.
Now after a long time had passed you eventually came in and asked him how it was going. He stepped down the ladder, one by one, he wiped his hands off and said, "well Mark.... the force just isn't with us"
From his account, your wife could be heard a few rooms over howling in laughter as you stood there chuckling, but clearly sick of people making star wars jokes. He then informed you about how the plumbing job would need to wait until another day so he could buy more parts, but he was getting tired of your kids' troubles in Zelda and you let him beat that part for them. He says that you both became friends from then on.
I don't talk to him very often anymore, but every time i hear that story i immediately want to laugh at him for making up something so ridiculous, and beg him for an autograph just in case it is true.
So my question is, how much is he making up? and have you gotten better at Legend of Zelda?
He's not making it up. It rings very true. I just asked my wife and she remembers completely. We had tons of plumbing issues there and she remembers laughing. The only part that seems true is the boys asking me for help with Zelda, as I was terrible at Zelda. I was only good at games like "Little Mermaid" and my kids would make fun of me that it was a game designed for six year old girls.
You've been married since 1978 -- and to the same person!
What's the secret to having such a successful marriage?
Well i just was lucky i found the right person. if you’re lucky enough to find your soulmate, you have to keep your fingers crossed. A really short manual would read “Don’t cheat”, because that seems to be where people break up. When you go through tricky periods you have to work on it and having children helps because you know you’re trying to find a way to make everyone happy. You know, she was my dental hygienist. I went in to get my teeth cleaned and that’s where we met. Good luck, by the way, Slunk!
Thanks for doing this AMA, what is your best memory voicing the Joker?
Oh gosh it's really hard to single out one moment. I love working when the whole cast is there because you get to do it real time start to finish. A lot of times with animation you do it one actor at a time, but doing the original series was like doing a radio play. And I love Kevin, he's a wonderful Batman and a wonderful friend.
Oh I just remembered another thing where I got to sing a really creepy version of “Only You”, a capella. That wasn’t something I expected to do as Joker - sing a song. But the Joker is never boring to me because he’s crazy. And if you’re crazy, you are unpredictable and you never do anything the same way. I was surprised how much I loved playing that role.
Are you still upset that you weren't able to pick up those 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.
Mr. Hamill, when I was six, all I wanted to be was you (Luke) and save the galaxy in my starfighter.
Who was your hero when you were six?
I used to watch superman on TV, and i loved the idea of flying. i used to wonder if i wanted to fly like superman or peter pan. Peter Pan looked like it was more fun, superman was so bolt straight. And i loved Zorro, the old Disney Zorro. What is it with guys with secret identities who go out and fight crime? And James bond. I loved all that stuff.
I loved you as Fire Lord Ozai in Avatar: The Last Airbender. In your voice acting, do you prefer to play villains or heroes?
I just look for really good scripts, and I thought Avatar was so good that it was sure to be canceled. It seems a little too deep, a little too intelligent for the kind of cartoon I was used to. So I was really delighted when it found an audience and it showed that parents watch what their kids watch, and that a serious show that dealt with important issues could find an audience.
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 its 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.
What is your 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.
Did you ever expect 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 ft 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 its so unique. I thought it would be popular but never thought it would be on the cover of Time magazine.
How proud are you of the Star Wars Holiday Special? Did you know at the time of shooting it that it would turn out the way it did?
Oh yeah. 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 on the extra of the DVD's - 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.
What's the story behind how you got the role of voicing The Joker or how you got into voice acting in general?
Well I'd heard that they were going to do and the model for the campaigns would be the Max Fleischer Superman cartoons of the 40's, and I'm a huge animation fan it knew it would be a much more sophisticated version. The gave me the part of Ferris Boyle in the first Mr. Freeze episode "Heart of Ice." What I loved about it, I thought it was so melancholy and so deep. Paul Dini wrote it and later got nominated for an Emmy. So I did it and I think what happened was that they were surprised what a fan boy I was, and how much I knew about Batman. I asked all these specific questions referencing the early comics.
So when they were doing the Joker auditions I think that played a big part as they asked me to audition. I thought no way would they have the person that played Luke Skywalker cast as the Joker - they are the quintessential extremes of good and evil. So I just assumed they wouldn't hire me so I went in with no apprehension. And I had been doing Amadeus on Broadway for the year. And so I was experimenting with that laugh for Amadeus and I brought it to the Joker audition and it player really well. And I felt cocky when I left and thought "That's the best Joker they are every going to hear - too bad they can't hire me." And then two weeks later when they called and said I got the job I immediately lost my confidence.
And then my friend told me you're pretty brave. And I said why is that? And he said I wouldn't want to follow Jack Nicholson on anything. And then I got even more scared. But fear is a great motivator.
Hi Mark! Possibly stupid question:
Do you find yourself at home trying to move things with the force? Example: TV remote across the room.
I ask this because I have done this many times hoping it would finally move. It hasn't. Yet.
That's the thing, that's what fairy tales are made of. You wish you could do all these things, fly like Peter Pan, telekineses 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.
Hi Mark. I am a wish grantor for make-a-wish. Thank you for what you are doing for the org and kids.
If you could change one scene from the original trilogy what would you change and why?
There was a scene at the beginning of the first movie that was cut out. When you're first introduced to Mark he's on the farm and he sees the Robots, when R2 and C3PO eject he races to the club, and you see what his life is like on Tataouine. This beautiful actress calls him wormy. I loved it bc you saw that he wasn't well liked by his peers, and he bumps into Garrick Hagon, and Luke is really excited bc 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 4th scene. The only place you can see it is the novelization of the screen play. With all the tweaking and adaptations, why not put it in to add detail to the story that's not there?
sorry, first introduced to Luke. typing too fast!
waves hand "You do not want to ask me any more Episode 7 questions."
Haha. I’m not being coy, really. When I find something out, I’ll let everybody know. But nothing has been decided yet.
Mr Hamill, it's such a pleasure. I have one question for you.
Do you possibly remember, in 1976 (or 1975, I'm not sure which) driving to the doctor to get your shots so you could fly overseas to shoot the first Star Wars movie? Do you remember that exact trip?
The reason I ask is because on that (or on one of them, if you had multiple), you stopped to pick up a hitchhiking woman who was on her way to a job interview.
You showed her the gargantuan script that you had in the front seat and she leafed through the first few pages and may not have seemed very impressed. She also may not have seemed very impressed that you were headed overseas, or that you were an actor. Or, for all I know, she could have put on a polite face and said that it was interesting.
I'm telling you this second-hand because this is a story I have been hearing from my own mother for the vast majority of my life - the time she got picked up and driven to an interview by the one and only Mark Hamill.
If you remember this happening, it would thrill my mother to no end to know that you remember her. If you don't remember, it's totally fine. She'll probably be mad at me for asking you either way - she's strangely embarrassed by the whole ordeal and tends to get mad at me when I bring it up.
She was so, so excited to see you in the movie the following summer and was VERY pleased to be proved wrong about you and your movie (she thought the few pages she read were dreadful and thought it would flop).
(On a side note, I have never confirmed this with her (again, she gets miffed when I bring it up) but I think it's because of you driving her to the interview and subsequently seeing you on the big screen that my sister and I grew up watching the Star Wars movies. I am an enormous fan and treat Star Wars like a religion (I'm not of the real Jedi faith but I find a particular solace in discussing the universe with others that is very similar to how at peace I feel when discussing religions with others) because of how much of my life has been dedicated to Star Wars.)
Thank you so much for your time, Mr. Hamill.
Edit: I texted her about this and she hasn't responded. I'm in trouble. OH WELL
Edit number two for those still interested: I just told her and she was overjoyed. I'm not in trouble! Hooray!
One key question, did she get the job? I hope so.
I don't have any specific memory of that, but it sounds like something I would have done. I don't recommend people to hitchhike or pick up hitchhikers now. I'm surprised I would have shown anyone the script, but there was no secrecy those days. If it were sitting in the front seat, she could have picked it up.
It would help if it were more geographically specific, because I know where I lived and where I would have been driving.
But of course it's true! Never doubt your mother.
Older Luke Skywalker: beard or no beard?
Well based on what has gone before, I have a feeling it's 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.
Hello Mark and welcome to Reddit, from the huge Star Wars fanbase over at /r/starwars . Thanks for doing the AMA
My pleasure! You know, 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.
What was your reaction when you first met Harrison Ford?
Well 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 Hans 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.
What would you consider your biggest accomplishment?
Not rushing out of the room for a bowl of guacamole and a bag of potato chips.
I always think of more personal than professional. I'm so proud of my 3 children and so happy with my wife and dog and little house and acre of land. I always think a day when you never get out of your pajamas is a win.
What is your favorite type of pizza?
How was life like after A New Hope released in theaters?
In New York, I never had a slice of pizza I didn't like. There are certain cities that have fantastic pizza, Chicago's another. Whether it's veggie or plain or pepperoni, I wish I could narrow it down.
Hi mark! I have a date in a hour with my crush (since high school) , any advice?
Well, I'm a little rusty in the dating department. But I would say, be yourself. Don't try to be someone you're not. Don't plan anything, be spontaneous. And be open, and fun, and let yourselves get to know each other as naturally as possible.
And needless to say, May the Force Be With You.
What is your all time favorite movie?
I don’t have an all time favorite, some of the movies that really impacted me as a kid were Hard Days Night, the Beatles first movie. I didn’t think I liked musicals and then I saw West Side Story and it just crushed me. I was 9 or 10 years old and it was so tragic. That one stands out.
I went to see The Tingler at a much too young age, and now you look at it and think how did that scare me? I met Vincent Price once, which was a thrill. And I mentioned the Tingler. I said when I was 9 it scared me to death and he said, 'wasn’t that a delightful bit of rubbish.'
And I love Laurel and Hardy and the Marx Brothers. I was voting on the 100 greatest films of all time for AFI, and I couldn't decide between Snow White and Psycho. That says it all. How can you compare those 2 films? You can't, it's all subjective. It's crazy to find the best anything.
What did (Bantha) blue milk taste like?
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.
What's your recipe for a great guacamole?
Lime juice and salsa. Onions. You really can't go wrong, you never make it the same way twice. One basic rule, no mayo ever!
Los Angeles somewhere. I believe she was on or near a bridge when you pulled over for her.
According to her story, you "plopped it in her lap." because you had a bit of a messy car (not that anybody is judging you!) and couldn't find a spot to put it because it was so big.
Oh oops! Edit: she didn't get the job. I don't think. Like I said, she's not really taking to me at the moment and I won't see her for another hour or so, if not longer, so I won't get the straight answer for a while. I remember asking her once and being disappointed at her answer. I think she was applying to a pharmacy? She works as a pharmacy technician in Santa Barbara for a while when she moved there from LA a few years after this happened.
Edit again: changed "but" to "not" in the parentheses.
Just based of the description of a messy car, I know it was me and she's telling the truth. I was single living in a one-bedroom apartment in Malibu trying to make ends meet off of TV money then. And in those days, I was much more likely to pick up hitch hikers. And the fact that she remembers the messy car is what sold me!
What is your favorite thing about working with the Make A Wish Foundation?
I love the feeling that you can give something back, bc you've been so fortunate in your own life. Working with MAW 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 your’e 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.
If you'd like to help me support Make A Wish, and win a chance to tour Skywalker Ranch and hang out with me in LA, you can enter here: http://www.omaze.com/experiences/starwars. It only takes $10.
You still here?
am i still here? pinch me! you think im in the kitchen with the guac and chips?
Who has been your greatest source of inspiration?
It's hard to pick a single person. My older brother, Alec Guinness, Sam Fuller, I don't know. The minute you say one person you think I should mention Harrison, George, Gary Kurtz, the list goes on and on. I love to be inspired by even the smallest aspect of someone's personality. Maybe they have a tenacity or wisdom that I lack. To pick one is impossible.
That questions inspires me to search my soul and contemplate.
do you ever have second thoughts about not finishing Jedi school ?
Ha! I didn't know that i hadn't! Thats 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 dust bin 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.
Did you enjoy your guest spot on the Simpsons? Do you like how they poked fun about you, the fans and Sci Fi conventions?
It was wonderful, I was such a fanboy, to know all of these characters from the show and then see them in person doing all these voices. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it. On one hand, I wanted to be on the Simpsons, but on the other hand they said I’m playing myself. I became very self conscious. I asked, if I do this, can I play someone besides myself? There's a good trivia question: in the episode 'Mayored to the Mob,' who else do I play besides Mark Hamill?
since Make a Wish just did "Batkid" any chance we'd see a "Luke Kid?" (or Jedi Kid)? Cause that. would. be. AWESOME
That would be a great idea! I’m sure as Disney ramps up awareness of episode 7 that would fit in perfectly. My hope is that we can bring back many people from behind the camera and in front of the camera. A Make A Wish Jedi kid would be great, and to involve as many people from the original trilogy as possible.
What is your favorite vacation spot?
I don't have a favorite, but my wife and i loved Bora Bora. Pretty much any new place you go, there's wonderful things to discover. SF, Boston, London, Australia. We don't have any one designated spot, just great memories from so many different places.
Since I love theater I love NY. We had an apt there for 9 years, i wish we had kept it.