Where’s Luke Skywalker? Right here in our Mark Hamill movies and television retrospective!
Mark Hamill owes everything to Star Wars. And in turn, Star Wars owes him a great debt as well. The original Star Wars was Hamill’s first live-action feature film, and it catapulted him to fame as Luke Skywalker, a role he went on to reprise in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
To be sure, there are several reasons for the enduring popularity of Star Wars. Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher both deserve their due, and so does everyone else involved with the first three films. But Hamill so perfectly embodied the farmboy-turned-Jedi Knight that Luke Skywalker is still an icon 38 years later.
Because he feared being typecast as Luke, Hamill went on a six-year hiatus from feature films after Return of the Jedi, and he never quite recaptured his leading man status in the movies. But in the early ‘90s, Hamill reinvented himself as a voiceover artist and his performance as the Joker in “Batman: The Animated Series” is widely viewed as one of the best interpretations of that character. Hamill has voiced the Joker so many times that it’s now his “other” signature role in addition to Luke Skywalker.
On Friday, December 18, Hamill will once again reprise his most famous role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And so far, Luke Skywalker has been withheld from the trailers for The Force Awakens to preserve the mystery of his appearance in the final movie. That refusal to reveal Luke has led to wild speculation and rumors, which was probably the desired outcome. But we’ll know the truth for ourselves in just a few days!
Before The Force Awakens hits theaters, ComingSoon.net is looking back at Hamill’s ten most memorable film and TV projects. Some of these movies have been nearly forgotten, but as they say in the trailer, there has been an awakening!
Mark Hamill Movies and TV Spotlight: Star Wars (1977)
It’s easy to take the success of Star Wars for granted almost 40 years after it came out. But at the time, it was far from a sure thing. Even George Lucas wasn’t sure if audiences would respond to his space epic. Fortunately, Lucas and his creative team had a very strong cast in place. Hamill’s Luke Skywalker turned out to be the perfect audience surrogate as he got pulled out of his mundane life and thrown into the adventure of a lifetime. He was the hero, and this was his journey.
Lucas even demonstrated a certain amount of restraint by not putting Luke in a lightsaber battle in the first Star Wars movie, while still giving Luke the biggest hero moments in the film. And of course, that famous twist in The Empire Strikes Back earned Hamill a place in cinematic history. Return of the Jedi completed Luke’s evolution, as he finally became the Jedi who could reject the Dark Side that claimed his father decades before. All told, Luke Skywalker is arguably one of the greatest movie heroes of all time.
Mark Hamill Movies and TV Spotlight: Corvette Summer (1978)
After Star Wars, Hamill was already looking to put some distance between Luke Skywalker and himself. That led to his starring role in Corvette Summer as Kenny Dantley, a high school senior who went to great lengths to track down his stolen Chevrolet Corvette Stingray…and then steal it back!
Future Ghostbusters secretary, Annie Potts, played Vanessa, the love interest of Kenny in the film. Corvette Summer isn’t some lost classic or even a cult favorite. But it is one of the rare non-Star Wars movies in which Hamill was unquestionably the star.
Mark Hamill Movies and TV Spotlight: The Big Red One (1980)
After The Empire Strikes Back, Hamill’s next film, The Big Red One was a World War II epic that revolved around legendary actor Lee Marvin. Hamill was one of the film’s secondary leads as Private Griff, a marksman who initially had problems using his deadly skills in wartime… but not after he saw the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp.
Although The Big Red One doesn’t have the same high profile reputation as other World War II films, it’s considered to be a classic in the war genre and was directed by the legendary Samuel Fuller.
Mark Hamill Movies and TV Spotlight: Slipstream (1989)
As noted above, Hamill took six years off from his feature film career and landed several stage roles and occasional TV guest spots. Slipstream marked Hamill’s first movie since Return of the Jedi, and it cast him in one of the leading roles as Will Tasker, a bounty hunter in a desolate future. TRON director Steven Lisberger helmed Slipstream and cast Bill Paxton as the co-lead of the film.
However, Slipstream proved to be an epic failure, and it slipped into the public domain after the bankruptcy of producer Gary Kurtz.
Mark Hamill Movies and TV Spotlight: The Flash (1991)
Hamill appeared in two episodes of “The Flash” as the Trickster, an over-the-top villain who menaced Central City and its Scarlet Speedster. This was one of Hamill’s first truly villainous turns, and the Trickster seems like an early version of his more famous role as Gotham City’s Crown Prince of Crime.
Although Hamill only appeared in two episodes of “The Flash” before its cancellation, he reprised his role as the Trickster on “Justice League Unlimited” and in two episodes of The CW’s modern version of “The Flash.”
Mark Hamill Movies and TV Spotlight: The Guyver (1991)
The Guyver is a strange beast of a film that gives Hamill top billing even though he isn’t the star of the movie! Instead, it’s Jack Armstrong, who stars as the title character of The Guyver. This movie was based on The Guyver manga series, and it followed Sean Baker (Armstrong), a young man who became fused with an alien object.
Hamill played CIA agent Max Reed, and he was a heroic ally for the Guyver. But because Hamill was a much bigger name than Armstrong, the posters for this film implied that Hamill was playing the Guyver. This was not a victory for truth in advertising.
Mark Hamill Movies and TV Spotlight: Batman: The Animated Series (1992)
The Joker was the catalyst for a new phase in Hamill’s career. Tim Curry was the man originally cast as the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, but he was soon replaced, and Hamill took over the role with an unforgettable take on the Joker. Hamill’s Joker proved to be so popular that he has reprised the role in several additional animated series, two animated movies, and the Batman: Arkham video game series.
Hamill also found himself suddenly in demand as a voiceover artist, and the Joker helped Hamill escape the image of Luke Skywalker.
Mark Hamill Movies and TV Spotlight: Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger (1994)
In 1994, Mark Hamill joined John Rhys-Davies and Malcolm McDowell for what was billed as the world’s first “interactive movie.” Hamill plays the leading role of Colonel Christopher Blair, a spaceship pilot fighting for the Terran Confederation in an intergalactic battle against cat-like creatures called Kilrathi.
Hamill would reprise the Blair role for Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom and an animated “Wing Commander Academy” television series. He even made a cameo in 1999’s Wing Commander feature film and is currently working alongside Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts on his new game, Star Citizen.
Mark Hamill Movies and TV Spotlight: Village of the Damned (1995)
Hamill had a supporting role in John Carpenter’s remake of Children of the Damned. He played Reverend George, one of the townspeople who opposed the creepy blonde-haired alien children. Let’s just say that it didn’t work out for Reverend George when he took up arms against the children.
Village of the Damned was also one of Hamill’s last live-action movies of the ‘90s.
Mark Hamill Movies and TV Spotlight: Comic Book: The Movie (2005)
Hamill made his directorial debut in the direct-to-video Comic Book: The Movie, which was actually filmed at San Diego Comic-Con in 2002. Hamill also starred in Comic Book: The Movie alongside several famous voiceover actors, including Billy West, Tara Strong, Arleen Sorkin, James Arnold Taylor, and Tom Kenny.
Comic Book: The Movie earned Hamill several nominations for the DVD Exclusive Awards, including best director and best actor. However, it is still the only feature length film that Hamill has ever directed.
Mark Hamill Movies and TV Spotlight: Sushi Girl (2012)
One of Hamill’s most recent films was the low-budget crime drama Sushi Girl, which performed well on the film festival circuit before it was released direct-to-DVD. Hamill played Crow, a small time crook who reunited with his crew Max (Andy Mackenzie), Francis (James Duval) and their crime boss Duke (Tony Todd) to force their former partner, Fish (Noah Hathaway) into revealing the location of the valuable diamonds they stole as team years before Fish was imprisoned.
Cortney Palm played the titular Sushi Girl, a woman who remained silent and naked through most of the film before revealing her part in the story.[Gallery not found]