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Mark Hamill on ‘Han Shot First’ and George Lucas' constant 'Star Wars' tinkering

“It’s kind of tricky, because they are his. He owns them you see.”
Mark Hamill and George Lucas
[Image: Getty]

Mark Hamill is living proof of just how wrong the saying, “Never meet your heroes,” can be.

As soon as I walked into New York City’s Carlyle Hotel to interview the bona-fide sci-fi icon the 66-year-old emanated a positivity and genuine intrigue that made you realize he was one of the good guys. I was even able to instantly forgive him for mistaking my accent for Australian, a huge taboo for an Englishman.

Over the course of our 15-minute conversation, which flew by so fast I’m still convinced it was a fraction of that time, Hamill opened up about his return as Luke Skywalker in “The Last Jedi,” how he’ll judge the success of the film, the prequels, his old friend George Lucas, Disney’s treatment of the “Star Wars” creator, and weeping on set. 

Even after going through all of that he still remembered to apologize once more for innocently mistaking my accent, even recalling the name of my home town as extra proof of his all round loveliness.

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But while I will be bringing you Hamill’s recollections and thoughts on the aforementioned topics in the build-up to the release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” I thought I would start off with his remarks regarding George Lucas’ constant tinkering of the “Star Wars” franchise, specifically the changes that have led to the infamous Han shot first debate.

For those of you that don’t know, back in the 1977 version of “Star Wars: A New Hope” it was made to look as though Han Solo shot Greedo first in the cantina. But in the 1997 special edition re-release, George Lucas changed it to make it look as though Greedo actually shot first and Han just retaliated.

Lucas insists that the 1977 version was supposed to depict it as such, too, but this alteration provoked a huge outcry from fans. When he finally learned about it, Mark Hamill was one of the “Star Wars” fans that was perturbed by the change, too.

“[George] put CGI on 20 years later,” Hamill told me when we were discussing the use of practical effects vs CGI. “My son [Nathan] knows much more about these films than I do. That whole, ‘Han shot first.’ I was like, ‘Is that a thing? Of course he shot first.’ He goes, ‘Not anymore Dad. He tricked it out.’ I said, ‘What’s the deal on that?’”

But Hamill doesn’t hold any grudge against Lucas, who he still regards as a close friend, for this adjustment. In fact, during our discussion Hamill’s remarks made it clear just how fondly he regards Lucas, as he explained both sides of the argument with an honesty and respect that you could only have for a dear chum. However he did conclude by insisting that George should have “let it go.”

“It’s kind of tricky, because they are his. He owns them you see. If someone else had done it people would have been outraged. I think it is a shame. I can understand.“

“Nathan’s generation is like, ‘Do all the special tweaks that you want. But preserve the original. Put it as a DVD extra, maybe?’ He’s changed the end of ‘Jedi.’ He wanted to cut to different planets to show that they’re all celebrating. I don’t know the whole thing.”

“But you’ve got to let it go. Just from the standpoint of your memory. I was totally into it when I was doing it. But then you go on to something else so you have to do an etch-a-sketch with your brain just so could absorb more material.”

“It was like that when I was on a soap opera. I was like, ‘Jesus.’ The amount and volume of lines you have to memorize. And everybody is talking so similarly you can get triggered into a line you were saying two weeks ago. Because it is all that sort of banal, jibber-jabber of suburbia.”

There’s plenty more to come from Mark Hamill regarding “Star Wars” and “The Last Jedi,” so keep glued to Metro leading up to its release on December 15.

 
 
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