7 Lesser-Known Mark Hamill Movies
Mark Hamill is known the world over for his performances as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars franchise, and rightfully so. George Lucas’ groundbreaking film was a supersensory cinematic experience. Audiences clamored to see the space-age adventures of Hamill’s Skywalker and his friends, Carrie Fisher’s headstrong Princess Leia Organa and Harrison Ford’s cool-headed gunslinger Han Solo. Lately, he has reprised the role which made him famous in the recent Star Wars sequel films. But there is more to his story as an actor. Hamill has always approached his superstardom with good humor. He has been happy to oblige parodies of Skywalker — or even himself — in shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy. In fact, his post-Star Wars career has been littered with voiceover roles of all kinds. His most notable role in that regard is the Joker, who he has frequently given voice to since Batman: The Animated Series. There are a lot casual fans do not know about Mark Hamill. Whether the role takes place here on Earth, in a galaxy far, far away or somewhere else entirely, here are some of his lesser known films.
The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)
Devoted Star Wars fans are aware of The Star Wars Holiday Special, even if they have not personally seen it. Other than a select few — including Alan Ladd Jr. and Steven Spielberg — nearly everyone expected Star Wars to be a massive failure, including George Lucas himself. When it turned into the smash-hit we know it as now, the powers that be at 20th Century Fox wanted to milk their new cash cow again, as soon as possible. The resulting product was a low-production value television variety show. It was nearly immediately and unanimously derided. The plot of the TV movie centers around Chewbacca going to his home planet of Kashyyyk to celebrate Life Day. Nearly all of the main cast reprises their respective roles, and the show also features the debut of the now-infamous Boba Fett (in animated form).
The Village of the Damned (1995)
John Carpenter’s later period remake of The Village of the Damned contains many of his trademarks as a filmmaker. Carpenter scores the characteristically campy horror film himself and the credits roll before 100 minutes have passed. Like the film which preceded it, strange energy befalls a small town which results in the lot of its female population impregnated. It also contains the confluence of two actors — Hamill and Christopher Reeve — as the town’s reverend and doctor, respectively, in their post-peak careers
Brigsby Bear (2017)
Brigsby Bear is a bizarre, affecting film produced namely by The Lonely Island crew (Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone). The film is written by and starring Kyle Mooney, who is one of the best comedians to come out of Saturday Night Live in recent years. Mooney plays James Mitchum. He lives in a bunker with his parents Ted and April (Hamill and Jane Adams) and watches a show called Brigsby Bear. That is until the bunker is raided and he discovers that the people he believed to be his parents are, in fact, not. He also learns that Brigsby Bear is not a real series but a creation of Ted’s. The show’s abrupt end as the result of Ted and April’s arrest throws James’ life into further chaos and he struggles to move on. It is far from a typical comedy film but is nonetheless an essential watch for comedy fans.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
As alluded to previously, Hamill’s most famous role beyond that of Luke Skywalker is likely his turn as the animated Clown Prince of Crime. Beginning with Batman: The Animated Series in 1992, Hamill’s Joker became a mainstay of the broader mythos. The first project he took on in the role beyond the series was a related feature film called Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. It was dark — though not as dark as what would come later. Bruce Wayne, the titular hero (voiced by Kevin Conroy), finds himself torn between two worlds. A lost love finds her way back into his life at the same time that a series of extrajudicial killings have been wrongfully pinned on his alter ego. The film’s champions praise its subtle writing for an animated film ostensibly targeted toward children.
The Big Red One (1980)
It is stunning that Hamill was able to find time to film other projects amidst the chaos of the original trilogy of Star Wars films, but he did. With The Big Red One, he sought to diversify his portfolio for fear of being typecast as the whiny, “aw, shucks” type of farm kid he portrays in the first Star Wars film. The Big Red One is a World War II epic set in the European theater. Lee Marvin plays “The Sergeant,” a World War I veteran who is now leading a team of his own in the battle against the Axis powers. Hamill’s role, Griff, is a private and marksman under his command. Though the film wasn’t overwhelmingly well-received upon release, the extended cut released decades later — adding nearly another hour to the film’s runtime — was given higher praise.
Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
In 2014, Matthew Vaughn—the man behind X-Men: First Class and the film adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust — put another Marvel comic series to film. Kingsman was not as well known as X-Men, but many know its name today because of Vaughn’s film. Taron Egerton plays “Eggsy” Unwin, a British burnout who is suddenly swept into a world of espionage and intrigue. Hamill plays a small but memorably campy role as Professor James Arnold, who finds himself a part of central villain Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson)’s evil plan. Kingsman: The Secret Service is enjoyable for anyone who desires a moviegoing experience that is oversaturated with cartoonish violence and crass humor.
Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)
Batman: The Killing Joke had a sort of high-profile release for a niche affair because of its attempt to adapt one of the darkest story arcs in the Batman canon. The film is rated R by the MPAA because of the violent and sexually explicit nature of the subject matter. This makes for a strange juxtaposition with Hamill and Kevin Conroy reprising the respective roles they played in previous, more kid-friendly Batman iterations. Reception for Batman: The Killing Joke has been hit-or-miss, as it strays from the story originally written by Alan Moore in a handful of ways. All that said, it is a cannot-miss for any Hamill or Batman completionist.
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