20 Little-Known Facts About The Legendary Mark Hamill
Mark Hamill is one of the most iconic actors of the 20th century. Duly honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2018, Hamill is synonymous with Luke Skywalker, the lead character of the timeless Sci-Fi franchise Star Wars.
Almost everyone knows the name ‘Mark Hamill’ – but there’s still a lot to discover about the actor who went from anonymity to superstardom in 1977.
20. A 1977 car accident meant his nose had to be reconstructed from parts of his ear
In January 1977, Hamill was involved in a car accident which left his nose and cheekbone fractured.
The damage was so severe that he had to have reconstructive surgery in which cartilage from his ear was used to rebuild his nose.
Hamill’s surgery and recovery meant he could no longer star in Eight is Enough, and also delayed the shooting of Star Wars.
In particular, it delayed the filming of the final lightsaber battle, which couldn’t be shot until Hamill was completely well again.
Interestingly, The Empire Strikes Back opens with Skywalker being mauled by a yeti-like Wampa.
It’s possible that this scene was included to explain Hamill’s changed appearance, but the cast has never confirmed that this was the case.
19. He wasn’t a fan of the way his character was handled in The Last Jedi
Ever since Disney announced they would be releasing new additions to the Star Wars saga, the choices they have made have been littered with controversy.
With that said, it’s fair to say that The Last Jedi was the most controversial film in the new saga, both to the fans and to the cast.
Mark Hamill, in particular, was shocked by the direction Luke Skywalker was taken in The Last Jedi, and didn’t hide that fact.
He was specifically against the idea that Luke would have gone into hiding for so long, instead of bouncing back and returning to his normal heroic attitude.
Speaking in an interview, he said: “Even if I was traumatised by something, I might take a year of meditation, but he would double down and come back harder. Jedis don’t give up!”
However, he did continue by saying “It’s not my story any more and I just have to accept that. I bonded very deeply with Rian, but I had to let him know how I felt.”
18. Playing Mozart helped him get the role of The Joker
Following his time as Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy, Mark Hamill went on to play Amadeus Mozart, the title character in the biographical play Amadeus.
The play follows the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, an incredibly gifted and somewhat eccentric composer.
The trajectory from dazzling space operas to biographical theatre was a path that surprised many of Hamill’s fans, but what is even more surprising is the part that playing Mozart helped him to get.
As unlikely as it sounds, it was Mark Hamill’s performance as Mozart that allowed him to bag the job of voicing the Joker, in Batman: The Animated Series.
Essentially, Hamill created various laughs for Mozart to use throughout the play, in order to make him seem unapproachable and almost frightening.
He used this variety of laughs in his audition to voice the Joker, and was later told that it was his chilling maniacal laughs that got him the job.
17. He fought with Carrie Fisher all the time on the set of Star Wars
From pictures taken on set throughout the filming of the original trilogy, it seems like the main three stars, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, were all one big happy family.
However, all three actors have since discussed the ways that things weren’t always perfect on set between them.
In particular, Carrie Fisher spoke up about her tumultuous relationship with Harrison Ford, and his alleged unapproachable attitude and tendency to argue on set.
However, Mark Hamill also came out with the surprise reveal that he and Carrie used to fight often on the set of Star Wars, and that it was Ford who was actually the most chilled out.
In an interview, he revealed “Harrison and I never fought in either picture. It was Carrie and I who had the screaming matches from time to time, though afterward neither of us could remember what they were about.”
He did also discuss his love for Carrie Fisher though, saying: “I loved her and loved making her laugh… I would do crazy things to make her laugh”.
16. He married his dentist
Mark Hamill’s first serious relationship was with the actress Anne Wyndham, his costar on one of his earliest acting jobs, General Hospital.
Wyndham was cast as his sister on the show, but the two soon began dating offscreen and then split up shortly after.
After the two split up, Hamill readily admitted that working with his former girlfriend on General Hospital was difficult, and even sometimes tense.
He said the relationship taught him that dating other actors could be fraught, due to the level of competition that often exists between you.
After vowing not to date another actress ever again, he soon fell into a relationship with Marilou York, a dental hygenist who he met in the waiting room while waiting for his dentist appointment.
The two have been married ever since 1978, and the couple have three children together, all of whom have cameos in The Last Jedi.
15. He’s the co-writer of The Black Pearl comic series
Throughout his career, Mark Hamill has played a lot of comic book characters, with the most famous obviously being the Joker.
However, he has also lent his voice to Cap-Zola in the Avengers Assemble TV series, as well as other DC villains, such as Swamp Thing.
With all that comic book experience, it’s unsurprising that he eventually decided to write his own, which was published under Dark Horse Comics.
The limited run of graphic novels was called The Black Pearl, and followed a man who is forced to become a vigilante hero after preventing a woman’s abduction.
Unlike many of the fantastical characters he has voiced in the past, The Black Pearl is much more grounded.
In fact, Hamill went so far as to say that the story is not a superhero story, but a crime thriller.
14. He learned to fence with an Olympian athlete
Without a doubt, the most memorable and enduring part of the Star Wars universe is the lightsaber battles.
Despite just being a sci-fi update to the classic film staple of sword-wielding duels, lightsaber battles are actually much harder to choreograph than normal sword fights.
To master the scenes, Hamill underwent extensive training with stunt coordinator Peter Diamond and former Olympic fencer Bob Anderson – who also doubled up as Darth Vader – to refine his lightsaber skills.
As if learning an entirely new skill wasn’t hard enough, it turned out that meshing the realities of sword-fighting with George Lucas’ creative vision proved very difficult.
After Lucas insisted that lightsabers could only be held with both hands, Diamond, Anderson, and Hamill had to re-choreograph several sequences entirely.
The results of the training were more than worth it though, since they resulted in some of the most memorable scenes in the film.
13. His daughter predicted his role on Criminal Minds
Mark Hamill got his start on General Hospital, so his decision to appear in Criminal Minds in 2013 isn’t that surprising.
Hamill only appeared in two episodes as a character named John Curtis, but it role was actually a pretty big deal.
Essentially, Hamill got to play The Replicator, a mysterious and brutal serial killer who causes mayhem all the way through season 8 of the show.
His reveal was a huge event for fans, since clues were dropped all through several episodes, hinting at the true identity of the killer.
Hilariously, Hamill’s own daughter grew up to be a huge Criminal Minds fan, and was following the arc eagerly.
She predicted that Hamill would be playing The Replicator, and was apparently overjoyed that her dad would be playing such an important Criminal Minds villain.
12. He was almost the star of Eight is Enough
Instead of just appearing in General Hospital as a young actor, Mark Hamill could have had a much longer career in TV.
That’s because he was originally set to star in Eight is Enough, a comedy-drama series that ran on ABC from 1977 until 1981.
Mark Hamill starred in the pilot for the show, playing the oldest child in the Bradford family, David Bradford.
However, after the release of the first Star Wars movie, he attempted to get out of his contract, predicting that the series would take off.
His wish to focus on his film career and abandon TV was not actually a good enough reason to get him out of Eight is Enough,
It was only when he was involved in a car crash and required surgery, that his recovery clashed with the shooting schedule for the show, which led to him being replaced.
11. He has played the character of Luke Skywalker in four different franchises
An unusual fact about Mark Hamill is that after playing Luke Skywalker in the original series of Star Wars, he didn’t usually agree to play the character in other official Star Wars projects.
Despite showing up for the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, he declined to voice the character in any animated forms, or participate in any video games.
This decision is made all the more hilarious by the fact that, before returning to the character in The Force Awakens, he played Luke Skywalker in a number of non-Star Wars properties.
First off, he voiced the character in a Robot Chicken episode, completely with janky looking action figures.
He also appeared briefly in Family Guy in 1999, playing Luke Skywalker a full decade before the show would do their own Star Wars spoof.
However, his first return to the character was in 1976, where he appeared in The Muppet Show to do a segment opposite Miss Piggy.
10. He hated drinking the blue bantha milk
Filming a series like Star Wars involves a lot of uncomfortable work, from shooting in wet, cold or exposed locations, to training with a lightsaber.
What’s surprising is that, more than the hours spent mastering fencing, or having to wade through cold water while shooting scenes with Yoda, Mark Hamill disliked a completely different part of making the movies.
For Hamill, the worst part of making the films was having to drink the blue milk, which was supposed to be the product of a creature called a bantha.
According to Hamill, the milk was sweetened and coloured, resulting in it tasting syrupy and completely gross, especially for multiple takes.
When the Star Wars theme park land Galaxy’s Edge in Florida began selling blue milk, Hamill voiced his approval that it tasted nothing like what he had to consume on set, saying:
“Honestly though: the warm, oily, sickly-sweet milk dyed blue from the movie was gag-inducing – while this frosty non-dairy drink tasted like a yummy fruit smoothie.”
9. He went from playing heroes to playing villains
After playing Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill apparently had a lot of trouble finding roles that weren’t for other innocent and upstanding heroes.
For a while, he was only offered similarly wholesome and pure-hearted parts, despite wanting desperately to branch out.
In a weird twist, however, he soon found a career in voice acting, which allowed him to play a whole host of terrifying villains.
He even got to bring a comic book villain to life in live-action, playing the Trickster opposite the Flash.
Nowadays, he has voiced everyone from the eerie killer doll in Child’s Play, to the always terrifying Joker, to more obscure monsters in Scooby-Doo.
It’s almost difficult to imagine him playing a hero at this point, despite him being typecast as a good guy at the beginning of his career.
8. His favourite lightsaber colour is green
In the Star Wars universe, lightsabers come in a variety of colours, and some are definitely flashier and rarer than others.
Hamill recently revealed, however, that he was most pleased with Skywalker’s green-bladed weapon, and didn’t need anything more ostentatious.
During a Reddit AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) session a few years ago he explained: “I just worked with Samuel L. Jackson, and he reminded me he had a purple lightsaber, which nobody had.”
He went on to say “I thought that was cool that he got his own colour. My favourite is green; I’m happy with what I had. You don’t need to give me lavender or raw umber or whatever.”
The rumour goes that there was never any intention to create purple lightsabers, at least not until Samuel L. Jackson asked for one.
Allegedly, Jackson asked for a different coloured lightsaber so he could pick himself out of fight scenes better, which it definitely does do.
7. A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Robert Englund encouraged him to audition for the role of Luke Skywalker
It’s obvious from watching Star Wars that Mark Hamill was always going to be the perfect Luke Skywalker, but it was actually a complete fluke that he was even considered for the part.
In fact, it’s down to the actor that portrayed horror icon Freddy Krueger that Hamill even got a shot at the Skywalker name at all, as unlikely as it sounds.
While reading the script for Lucas’ new film, Freddy Krueger actor Robert Englund realised that his friend Mark sounded like a great fit for the role of Skywalker.
Recalling the moment that set Hamill’s career in motion, Englund says: “I just told Mark about this new George Lucas movie – that’s all. Mark got on the phone and called his agent.” And the rest is history.
Englund himself didn’t end up in Star Wars – although some believe he had his eyes on the role of Han Solo, a rumour that has never been officially confirmed.
He did nab the part of Freddy Kreuger in Wes Craven’s horror classic A Nightmare on Elm Street, however, which definitely went some way towards earning him icon status in his own right.
6. He went to high school in Japan
Hamill’s father was a US Navy Captain, meaning that his family moved around the world during Hamill’s formative years.
By the time Hamill was 16, the family was stationed in Japan and he was attending Nile C Kinnick High School in Yokosuka, now a private school located in the Yokosuka Naval Base.
While at school there Hamill was, unsurprisingly, an active member of the drama club and performed in many school productions.
He even served as school council president before graduating in 1969, proving that he wasn’t just pretending to be the upstanding type while playing Luke Skywalker.
Hamill graduated from the high school in 1996, and enrolled in Los Angeles City College to major in drama, before starting on the path to becoming a professional actor.
As well as General Hospital, that involved a stint on the sitcom The Texas Wheelers, which he appeared in right out of college.
5. He once broke his thumb by doing his own stunts on set
Given its fantastical, far-off setting, and the heightened drama of the action, it can be difficult to remember that a lot of the high-octane sequences in Star Wars are happening for real.
From fleeing from Stormtroopers to engaging in epic lightsaber battles, there is real danger in getting the sequences shot correctly, and that comes with a level of risk for the cast.
Mark Hamill has admitted that as he’s got older he’s got more cautious when it comes to stunts, and is happy to let doubles take over.
However, when he was younger, it seems as though he wanted to do everything himself, even when it probably wasn’t a good idea.
His attempts at stunts didn’t always end well, and Hamill once broke his thumb while filming a shot of him leaping away from an AT-AT.
Hamill’s injury resulted in delays to the shooting schedule – notably, filming of the lightsaber duel between Skywalker and Darth Vader had to be pushed back.
4. His agent was disappointed when he was cast as The Joker
The Joker is one of the most well-known villains in all of media history, so much so that getting to play the laughing madman is considered a great honour to most actors.
Not only that, but the Joker is often considered to be one of the most fun characters an actor can play, since there is so much room for interpretation.
Mark Hamill has famously voiced The Joker in a whole host of animated projects, beginning with Batman: The Animated Series in 1992.
You’d think the chance to play such an enigmatic character would be welcome news – but Hamill’s agent wasn’t impressed with the decision.
Recalling the conversation he had with her in the wake of his casting, Hamill explains: “She said, ‘Oh, I wish you’d gotten Alfred.’ I said, ‘On Batman, you wish I’d got Alfred? What are you talking about?’”.
He continued by saying that while his agent believed The Joker was an important character, Alfred was in every episode, so she’d have preferred for Hamill to have been cast as him.
3. He initially thought he should play Han Solo instead
In a sweet and hilarious twist, Mark Hamill initially didn’t think he would be playing the role of the leading man, even once he knew he was cast in Star Wars.
He was far too humble, and believed he would not be given the opportunity to play the starring role, which is the exact sort of naivety Luke Skywalker himself would display.
Hamill initially believed Harrison Ford, as a more experienced actor, would be playing the leading role.
It was only when he sat down to read the script that he realised the role of ‘Luke Starkiller’ – as he was then called – was not a “sidekick” character, as he had previously thought.
Hamill remembered the rollercoaster of emotions he felt reading the script for the first time in an interview with StarWars.com: “When I tested, I figured Harrison’s a leading man. So I thought, ‘I’m playing his sidekick, right?’
Reading it, I’m going, ‘Wait a second. Wasn’t I reading for Luke Starkiller? This can’t be right.’ Anyway, I started reading it and you can imagine.”
2. He still has a helmet and boots from the first Star Wars movie
When filming on what would become Episode IV: A New Hope wrapped in 1977, Hamill kept the Stormtrooper helmet he wore to rescue Princess Leia and his Skywalker boots as a souvenir.
In 1995, when A New Hope was re-released in cinemas, Hamill’s son asked to borrow the boots and wear them to a showing.
However, his father declined, fearing that fans would mob his son if they realised he was wearing the original boots.
Hamill certainly looks after the boots well – he says they’re kept in a safety deposit vault at an undisclosed location, far away from the prying eyes of burglars.
It’s unclear whether Mark Hamill is wearing the same original boots in the sequel trilogy, since they may be too old to be able to withstand the heavy-duty needs of shooting.
Still, he is at the very least wearing a very similar pair, which go just as well with his rugged elder-Jedi get-up as with his young hero attire.
1. He’s a lifelong fan of Laurel and Hardy
It’s no surprise that an actor of Hamill’s calibre turns to the greats when asked to pick his own favourite performers.
He’s a lifelong fan of Stan Laurel and Ollie Hardy and once quipped “if you don’t like Laurel and Hardy, you are no friend of mine.”
In 2016, Hamill phoned into The Ross Owen Show on Black Sky Radio to talk about his favourite comedy duo and spoke passionately for over an hour.
A devoted fan, tweeting about the iconic pair he wrote: “I love them more than words can say. Both were underrated as great actors!”
Hamill’s fandom when it comes to the comedy duo is so notable, that it even has its own section on Hamill’s own Wikipedia page!