This year, EW celebrated May the Fourth with a full day of Return of the Jedi, screening the end of the first (and definitely not last) Star Wars trilogy four times at the Egyptian Theatre. It was the biggest day yet of our first-ever CapeTown Film Fest. Boba Fett and Darth Vader were walking around the foyer. A full-sized Jabba the Hutt held court, accepting photograph requests from admirers.
There were special events throughout the day. After one screening, EW’s Anthony Breznican hosted a Luke Skywalker lookalike competition. From the wings, a new contestant emerged…Mark Hamill, undoubtedly the world’s most talented Luke Skywalker lookalike. The star of the original trilogy stuck around to talk with Breznican about the series’ past…and its future. Below, six important items of conversation from The Once and Future Skywalker.
He thought Luke would go dark in Return of the Jedi. Or anyhow, that’s what he thought when he started reading the final film’s script. “I know where this thing’s going. I’ve got one mechanical hand now. I’m all in black. I’m well on my way to the dark side.” Hamill expected the film would have a big fake-out, where Luke would only be pretending to be a bad guy. He also gently joked about the central plot point of Jedi: “Really, come on, a second Death Star? Really?” But he also reminded the audience that, if George Lucas had known all along they would make three films, he probably would have saved the Death Star for the third film.
You think the Vader-Father thing was crazy? Well, try this on for size. Hamill earned laughs when he mock-complained about the key twist in Return of the Jedi: The revelation that Princess Leia is Luke’s sister. “Why not have Boba Fett remove his helmet, shake out some beautiful hair, and…Oh my god, it’s mom! She’s been a double agent all these years!”
A Game of Trilogies. Hamill recalled how, on the set of the original Star Wars, George Lucas told the actor about his game plan for the Star Wars saga. “He was talking about how, originally, it was four trilogies of twelve [movies],” said Hamill. “But he cobbled it down to three trilogies of nine. I said, ‘Why are we starting in the middle?’ He said, ‘Well, um, this trilogy is the most commercial.”
Don’t complain to Mark Hamill about the Special Editions or the prequels. Hamill noted that his son Nathan helped keep him abreast of new developments in Star Wars fandom. “He’ll say, ‘Oh my god, Dad, Greedo shoots first now!’ I’ll say, ‘Wait, wait, wait. Let’s put this in perspective: Who cares?’” That led Hamill into a full-throated defense of the Star Wars prequels: “Jar Jar was supposed to be irritating! He’s irritating to the other characters in the movie!” He concluded by arguing that Lucas had earned the right to make Star Wars films in the manner he wanted. “Those aren’t sorta the movies he wanted them to be, they’re exactly the movies they wanted to make,” said Hamill. “And I’m not gonna criticize them at all.”
And yes, he’s excited about the new trilogy, too. George Lucas invited Hamill, his wife, and Carrie Fisher to lunch last year. Hamill figured he was going to talk about the 3D re-releases of the original Star Wars trilogy; as we all know now, the conversation was about something very different indeed. With regards to the new series, Hamill explained, “I’ve only had one creative meeting about the new films, but I do remember saying: ‘We’ve got to find a proper balance between CGI and old-school models.’ I want to have a more organic look so that we don’t get into Roger Rabbit territory.” This statement earned loud cheers from the audience, leading Hamill to laugh, “That’s just me! Don’t get too excited! I don’t imagine their top priority is what I want.”
Hamill knew that Star Wars would be a success. Although he didn’t know how big of a success. He told the crowd what he saw as the worst-case scenario: “Even if this doesn’t do well at the box office, this has cult hit written all over it. I see endless midnight screenings.” However, he was always bullish on its chances. “I predicted: This thing is gonna be bigger than Planet of the Apes. This thing will make at least $25 million.”
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