TV & FILM
brian-mcgee - March 13, 2018
The legions of The Last Jedi haters have long clung to the gripes that Mark Hamill expressed during the film's promotional tour, but now Hamill is setting the record straight, and the haters may have to look elsewhere for support. Conspiracy theorists are sure to scream that he's been paid off by Disney or at least gotten a stern talking to, but during a Q&A at SXSW following the premiere of the feature-length documentary The Director and The Jedi, Hamill and writer/director Rian Johnson finally got a chance to clear the air.
"When you get down to it, it's not Mark Hamill in a blockbuster film. It's Luke. I had to do a wild reimagining of the character. Like, hey, what happened between the last one and this one, where the most hopeful man in the galaxy becomes a cranky old suicidal man telling people to get off his lawn?
"Here I am going home again," he later added, "but it was a house I didn’t recognize at all."
Another fan pressed Hamill about this and about the brief mentions of disagreements between Hamill and Johnson during the film's production, which he opened up about widely.
"It's not distaste at all," Hamill said, partially quoting the question. "It just wasn't a Luke I understood." He described "backstories" that he had to invent for himself, including how Luke, in mentoring Kylo Ren, "picked the new Hitler to be the next hope" and "how I justified cutting off my telepathic communication with my sister." He even had a conversation with Johnson about the fact that Episode VII ended with Luke wearing Jedi robes. "What do we say about that? To make sure there was a flow."
Johnson then chimed in with his perspective on the situation...
"In the context of how this has all been framed, you have to snap your head back and remember that with every single movie, with characters, it's always a dialogue between the director and actors," Johnson added. "That's a healthy thing. You always butt heads with actors."
The same fan asked a follow-up question: how, Mr. Hamill, would you have written the plot if you could have? (Johnson immediately interjected and drew a huge laugh from the audience: "I wanna hear this. What would you do, motherfucker?")
Hamill admitted that he had "lots of really terrible ideas" for Episode VIII, at which point he shifted the question with an interesting tidbit: he had similar beef with George Lucas and Return of the Jedi's plot before that began filming. "I read [the script for] Jedi and thought, 'Wait a sec! I thought I was heading toward the struggle of heading to the Dark Side. I'm in black. I have a glove. I see a trend here.'"
After offering a cooking analogy about actors and directors, Hamill expressed a rare bit of regret, which he explained by way of his own Star Wars fandom.
"I'm like a lot of you. I feel an investment in it, a certain sense of ownership, which is a joke, because I don’t own it, now Disney does. But you care! That's what happens with these films. I'm sorry I lowered my guard and expressed my misgivings about it. That belongs in the [filmmaking] process. That doesn't belong to the public. I feel bad because I made that statement before I saw the finished film."
So what does Hamill think of the finished film?
He went on to compliment the film—"probably the most complex Star Wars film since maybe Empire"—and even acknowledged how Johnson found little ways to get him on board with the acting role while the film was in production. He referenced a scene in which Luke threatens to burn down the Jedi library, then acts startled and sad when Yoda calls his bluff to do it instead. "Not only is [Luke] a broken man, he's certifiably insane? I can play that."
I would love to live in a world where this is the end of the argument, but I'm almost certain it won't be. What do you think? Are you satisfied with this explanation or do you still cling to your "he was told to play nice by Lucasfilm" theory? Let us know in the comments section below!