“Is Mark Hamill your real name?”
That’s the first line of Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons’ Icon Comics miniseries, the first issue of which premiered in 2012 and immediately inspired Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn to develop a big screen version, the February 13 release Kingsman: The Secret Service, starring Academy Award winners Colin Firth and Michael Caine opposite Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson and, in a star-making performance, relative newcomer Taron Egerton. That’s in addition, of course, to the aforementioned once and future Star Wars actor.
“I play the professor in two scenes,” Hamill smiled to a large crowd assembled at Los Angeles’ Century City AMC Theater. “This is really a glorified cameo, don’t get me wrong.”
Hamill recalled an early phone call from Millar back before the writer began work on “The Secret Service” wherein the actor was asked if he wouldn’t mind making a sequential art cameo in the book (Please be aware, spoilers for an early scene in the comic book itself follow).
“I was a fan of his writing,” Hamill said. “I heard he wanted to talk to me about something, so I called him. He told me about the comic he was writing… Part of the plot involved kidnapping iconic science fiction actors, believe it or not. He said, ‘It’s sort of a mash-up.’ The comic is a throwback to the old hyper-stylized super-spy movies, like when Sean Connery was James Bond, contrasted with the sort of dystopian existence that he came from. It goes back and forth between the glamorized, idealized fantasy spy world back to this poor family living in a council house and so forth.”
As one might expect from Millar, Hamill’s comic book cameo has a twist to it. In the story, the actor is rescued by a British Secret Service agent only to have a parachute open too late, sending both the agent and Hamill himself crashing to their deaths.
“I laughed really hard,” said Hamill. “I thought, ‘Well, that’s certainly unexpected.’ It appealed to my perverse sense of humor.”
The upcoming film diverts quite a bit from the comic, primarily adapting the basic premise of a young man recruited into a highly-skilled espionage team.
“At one point [Mark Millar] said, ‘If we make this into a movie, will you play yourself?’ I thought, ‘Yeah, that sounds fine.’ What happened was, when they wrote the screenplay, that element of kidnapped sci-fi actors went away, but Mark still wanted me to do it. He said, ‘There’s another part we want you to play.'”
You’ll have to wait another month until Kingsman: The Secret Service opens in theaters to find out exactly what happens to Hamill’s new character and then it will be just another ten more before we get to see the star return to a galaxy far, far away in J.J. Abrams’ much-anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
“The most interesting aspect from my point of view is that [Star Wars] is now in the hands of the generation who were fans,” Hamill said. “…It’s the next generation of filmmakers who were sort of weened on these pictures.”
Although he seems delighted by the opportunity to reprise his Luke Skywalker role, Hamill admitted that he was a little surprised by the extreme level of secrecy during production.
“You know, the security on it is just crazy,” he continued. “I’m surprised I can even admit I’m in it! …I like being surprised. It’s a whole different era now. When we made the original films, you had the odd reporter hanging around the studio bribing people to give them stories. Now, I said to them, ‘Do I really have to wear this robe and this hood that covers my entire head to go from the trailer to the soundstage?’ They said, ‘Yeah, there’s drones.’ Seriously! There’s drones flying over the studio trying to get pictures of whatever they can get pictures of.”
That being said, fans being desperate for even the smallest tidbits of news is nothing new.
“We had a little of that on ‘Empire Strikes Back,'” Hamill laughed. “We were up in Finse, Norway and [someone] bribed a couple of emergency helicopter pilots that were looking for a couple that were stranded while skiing to buzz-bomb our set and take pictures. They appeared in the newspaper The Sun. They didn’t get much. They had pictures of snowmobiles and they wrote ‘Strange, alien machinery on the set of ‘Star Wars 2′!’ as they called it. It was crazy! It was just snowmobiles with really identifiable logos on the side.”